After college, when I learned to dress well, I was shocked at the impression clothing made on people. At how many comments it gets when done well.
At first, it made me uncomfortable; I wasn’t used to standing out. But I couldn’t ignore the effect it had on people. The assumptions they made about me. The questions they asked.
“Why are you dressed like that?”
“Where do you work?”
The way you dress is a social hack
It felt like discovering a secret. A social hack. Just changing clothes made a drastic change in how people treated me.
And if just changing clothes improves the way people treat me, why not do it?
Robert Cialdini wrote all about this in his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. It’s called social proof.
I got my first custom blazer a few years later. I still have it. It’s one of my favorite pieces of clothing.
Because I know how great it looks, and the impression it makes on people; I feel different when I wear it. I feel fantastic!
Luxury is about the experience
During my round-the-world trip, I lived in Southeast Asia for a year and a half. There were custom tailor shops everywhere.
A friend in Vietnam told me about his new custom-tailored suit. He showed it to me, and it looked great.
So I got the dats of the guy who made it for him.
Turned out he was a mildly flamboyant American expat who had a custom tailor shop he ran with his Vietnamese wife. He liked to hang out at a certain cigar bar. Classic.
I went to meet him at the bar and have a chat. He showed up on a Vespa scooter wearing a gray and pink three-piece suit.
He wore all this despite the 80-degree humid summertime Saigon heat. I knew this was going to be good!
We chatted for a few hours. Politics, the economy, living internationally, oh—and men’s style! He was clearly an aware, worldly guy. One of my peeps!
Buying luxury clothing is more about the experience than anything—and this was already turning out to be quite the story. So I decided to have him make a blazer for me.
We met in the lobby of a high-end hotel. We were there so he could take my measurements, and get all the specs for my blazer.
At the last minute, I decided on royal blue with a bright orange lining. Something that really stands out!
A few days later, when I tried it on for the first time, it felt absolutely perfect. Like a suit of armor.
I felt like I was ready to pull up to a Hollywood movie premiere in a Lamborghini, have security pull the velvet rope aside, and escort me right in.
Luxury experiences appeal to the ego
It felt great just walking down the street that afternoon with the blazer in the garment bag!
And after years, the blazer still pops! I feel like a million bucks every time I put it on. I want to be seen in it. I want to make that impression. I admit it. It appeals to my ego.
But I don’t mind that people make assumptions about me when I wear it. Assumptions that work in my favor. It still feels like a hack. Like I’m cheating to get unearned social proof.
It’s called the Halo effect. When you make assumptions about someone based on your impression of them.
Kind of like the impression someone makes driving a used Mercedes they bought for a fraction of the price of a new one. Nobody knows what they paid. But the social status still works in their favor.
How this relates to your website
At this point, you’re probably wondering; what the heck does this have to do with websites? Right?
Think about it.
If you have a low-budget website, it shows. You’re probably not proud of it, and not excited to show it off.
What’s worse—when you show it to someone, you may even make excuses about it. About why it doesn’t look so great.
I made it myself.
I’m still working on it.
You know the drill.
You won’t come from a position of confidence and strength, and people will feel it.
That’s the website equivalent of showing up in a hoodie with a mustard stain on it.
But when you have a beautiful, top-notch website—well, now you’re wearing a custom blazer, pressed slacks, and polished shoes.
The appearance of your website is also a social hack in a way. People make assumptions about you, your business, and your level of success based on how it looks. You get the Halo effect.
Not to mention, when you have a beautiful website you want to show it off because you’re proud of it. You radiate confidence and strength.
It’ll give you that ego boost. And even if you never admit it; it’s ok to let yourself feel good about it. And it’ll feel good when people compliment you on it.
What impression do you want to make?