Published Online:

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a record number of employees began working remotely. These workers have a wide array of attire options, from “work outfits” (which are consistent with the content of work) to “home outfits” (which are consistent with remote work settings). Media accounts suggest this shift has created a new outfit: business tops with casual bottoms. Although this “Zoom mullet” outfit has been called “the perfect pandemic work-from-home attire,” it is not fully consistent with either the work or the home context. To investigate the psychological consequences of attire on remote workers, we conducted two multiday experiments. We randomly assigned remote workers, both within- and between-participants, to wear “work attire,” “home attire,” or “mixed attire” (work attire on top/home attire on bottom), and measured their authenticity, power, and engagement at work. The experiments produced three key findings. First, Home Attire increased authenticity and engagement. Second, Work Attire did not consistently increase power. Finally, the media-hyped Mixed Attire outfit did not produce any psychological or work-related benefits. To understand these effects, we introduce the concepts of “enclothed harmony” and “enclothed dissonance,” which capture whether one’s attire is symbolically consistent with one’s context. The results suggest clothing choices, even for remote workers, are psychologically and organizationally impactful.

Whiteboard Video Abstract


  • Adam, H., & Galinsky, A. D. 2012. Enclothed cognition. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48: 918–925. Google Scholar
  • Anderson, C., Kraus, M. W., Galinsky, A. D., & Keltner, D. 2012. The local-ladder effect: Social status and subjective well-being. Psychological Science, 23: 764–771. Google Scholar
  • Bailey, E. R., & Levy, A. 2022. Are you for real? Perceptions of authenticity are not accurate and systematically biased. Psychological Science, 33: 798–815. Google Scholar
  • Beer, J. S., & Brandler, S. 2021. Why don’t we know more about the minds of authentic people? Social and Personality Psychology Compass. doi: 10.1111/SPC3.12637. Google Scholar
  • Bloom, N. 2020, June. How working from home works out. Retrieved from Google Scholar
  • Carli, L. L. 1999. Gender, interpersonal power, and social influence. Journal of Social Issues, 55: 81–99. Google Scholar
  • Castrillon, C. 2020, Dec 27. This is the future of remote work in 2021. Forbes. Google Scholar
  • Cha, S. E., Hewlin, P. F., Roberts, L. M., Buckman, B. R., Leroy, H., Steckler, E. L., Ostermeier, K., & Cooper, D. 2019. Being your true self at work: Integrating the fragmented research on authenticity in organizations. Academy of Management Annals, 13: 633–671. Google Scholar
  • Diener, E. D., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. 1985. The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49: 71–75. Google Scholar
  • Ebrahimi, M., Kouchaki, M., & Patrick, V. M. 2019. Juggling work and home selves: Low identity integration feels less authentic and increases unethicality. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 158: 101–111. Google Scholar
  • Festinger, L. 1962. A theory of cognitive dissonance. Redwood City, CA: Stanford University Press. Google Scholar
  • Fleeson, W., & Wilt, J. 2010. The relevance of Big Five trait content in behavior to subjective authenticity: Do high levels of within‐person behavioral variability undermine or enable authenticity achievement? Journal of Personality, 78: 1353–1382. Google Scholar
  • Frank, M. G., & Gilovich, T. 1988. The dark side of self- and social perception: Black uniforms and aggression in professional sports. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54: 74–85. Google Scholar
  • Frith, H., & Gleeson, K. 2004. Clothing and embodiment: Men managing body image and appearance. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 5: 40–48. Google Scholar
  • Galinsky, A. D., Rucker, D. D., & Magee, J. C. 2015. Power: Past findings, present considerations, and future directions. In M. MikulincerP. R. ShaverJ. A. SimpsonJ. F. Dovidio (Eds.), APA handbook of personality and social psychology, vol. 3: Interpersonal relations: 421–460. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Google Scholar
  • Galinsky, A. D., Wang, C. S., Whitson, J. A., Anicich, E. M., Hugenberg, K., & Bodenhausen, G. V. 2013. The reappropriation of stigmatizing labels: The reciprocal relationship between power and self-labeling. Psychological Science, 24: 2020–2029. Google Scholar
  • Gillath, O., Bahns, A. J., Ge, F., & Crandall, C. S. 2012. Shoes as a source of first impressions. Journal of Research in Personality, 46: 423–430. Google Scholar
  • Gino, F., & Kouchaki, M. 2020. Feeling authentic serves as a buffer against rejection. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 160: 36–50. Google Scholar
  • Giurge, L. M., Whillans, A. V., & Yemiscigil, A. 2021. A multicountry perspective on gender differences in time use during COVID-19. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118: e2018494118. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2018494118 Google Scholar
  • Glavas, A. 2016. Corporate social responsibility and employee engagement: Enabling employees to employ more of their whole selves at work. Frontiers in Psychology, 7. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00796. Google Scholar
  • Gözükara, İ., & Simsek, Ö. F. 2016. Role of leadership in employees’ work engagement: Organizational identification and job autonomy. Journal of Business and Management, 11: 72–84. Google Scholar
  • Grandey, A. A. 2003. When “the show must go on”: Surface acting and deep acting as determinants of emotional exhaustion and peer-rated service delivery. Academy of Management Journal, 46: 86–96.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • Greenhaus, J. H., & Beutell, N. J. 1985. Sources of conflict between work and family roles. Academy of Management Review, 10: 76–88.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • Gross, J. J., & Levenson, R. W. 1997. Hiding feelings: The acute effects of inhibiting negative and positive emotion. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 106: 95–103. Google Scholar
  • Hannover, B., & Kühnen, U. 2002. “The clothing makes the self” via knowledge activation. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 32: 2513–2525. Google Scholar
  • Hayes, A. F. 2009. Beyond Baron and Kenny: Statistical mediation analysis in the new millennium. Communication Monographs, 76: 408–420. Google Scholar
  • Huang, L., & Galinsky, A. D. 2011. Mind–body dissonance. Social Psychological & Personality Science, 2: 351–359. Google Scholar
  • Huang, L., & Whitson, J. 2020. Organizational costs of compensating for mind-body dissonance through conspiracies and superstitions. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 156: 1–12. Google Scholar
  • Kahn, W. A. 1990. Psychological conditions of personal engagement and disengagement at work. Academy of Management Journal, 33: 692–724.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • Kang, S. K., Galinsky, A. D., Kray, L. J., & Shirako, A. 2015. Power affects performance when the pressure is on: Evidence for low-power threat and high-power lift. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41: 726–735. Google Scholar
  • Kifer, Y., Heller, D., Perunovic, W. Q. E., & Galinsky, A. D. 2013. The good life of the powerful. Psychological Science, 24: 280–288. Google Scholar
  • Kraus, M. W., & Mendes, W. B. 2014. Sartorial symbols of social class elicit class-consistent behavioral and physiological responses: A dyadic approach. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 143: 2330–2340. Google Scholar
  • Lammers, J., Dubois, D., Rucker, D. D., & Galinsky, A. D. 2013. Power gets the job: Priming power improves interview outcomes. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49: 776–779. Google Scholar
  • Lehman, D., O’Connor, K., Kovacs, B., & Newman, G. 2019. Authenticity. Academy of Management Annals, 13: 1–42. Google Scholar
  • Lorenz, S. L., & Murray, R. 2014. “Goodbye to the Gangstas”: The NBA dress code, Ray Emery, and the policing of blackness in basketball and hockey. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 38: 23–50. Google Scholar
  • MacLin, M. K., & Herrera, V. 2006. The criminal stereotype. North American Journal of Psychology, 8: 197–208. Google Scholar
  • Magee, J. C., & Galinsky, A. D. 2008. 8 social hierarchy: The self-reinforcing nature of power and status. Academy of Management Annals, 2: 351–398.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • Maslach, C., & Jackson, S. E. 1981. The measurement of experienced burnout. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 2: 99–113. Google Scholar
  • McCarthy, K. 2020, May 12. Coronavirus survey: Employees ditching makeup, shaving, and even pants on Zoom calls. Retrieved from Google Scholar
  • Mummolo, J., & Peterson, E. 2019. Demand effects in survey experiments: An empirical assessment. American Political Science Review, 113: 517–529. Google Scholar
  • Peluchette, J. V., Karl, K., & Rust, K. 2006. Dressing to impress: Beliefs and attitudes regarding workplace attire. Journal of Business and Psychology, 21: 45–63. Google Scholar
  • Pratt, M. G., & Rafaeli, A. 1997. Organizational dress as a symbol of multilayered social identities. Academy of Management Journal, 40: 862–898.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • Rafaeli, A., Dutton, J., Harquail, C. V., & Mackie-Lewis, S. 1997. Navigating by attire: The use of dress by female administrative employees. Academy of Management Journal, 40: 9–45.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • Rafaeli, A., & Pratt, M. G. 1993. Tailored meanings: On the meaning and impact of organizational dress. Academy of Management Review, 18: 32–55.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • Rafaeli, A., & Sutton, R. I. 1987. Expression of emotion as part of the work role. Academy of Management Review, 12: 23–37. Google Scholar
  • Ramarajan, L., Rothbard, N. P., & Wilk, S. L. 2017. Discordant vs. harmonious selves: The effects of identity conflict and enhancement on sales performance in employee-customer interactions. Academy of Management Journal, 60: 2208–2238.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • Rivera, G. N., Christy, A. G., Kim, J., Vess, M., Hicks, J. A., & Schlegel, R. J. 2019. Understanding the relationship between perceived authenticity and well-being. Review of General Psychology, 23: 113–126. Google Scholar
  • Roach-Higgins, M. E., & Eicher, J. B. 1992. Dress and identity. Clothing & Textiles Research Journal, 10: 1–8. Google Scholar
  • Rucker, D. D., Galinsky, A. D., & Magee, J. C. 2018. The agentic–communal model of advantage and disadvantage: How inequality produces similarities in the psychology of power, social class, gender, and race. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 58: 71–125. Google Scholar
  • Saks, A. M. 2006. Antecedents and consequences of employee engagement. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 21: 600–619. Google Scholar
  • Saks, A. M., & Gruman, J. A. 2014. What do we really know about employee engagement? Human Resource Development Quarterly, 25: 155–182. Google Scholar
  • Segran, E. 2021, April 19. Patagonia ditches corporate logos on its vests. Retrieved from Google Scholar
  • Seppälä, P., Mauno, S., Feldt, T., Hakanen, J., Kinnunen, U., Tolvanen, A., & Schaufeli, W. 2009. The construct validity of the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale: Multisample and longitudinal evidence. Journal of Happiness Studies, 10: 459–481. Google Scholar
  • Sheldon, K. M., Ryan, R. M., Rawsthorne, L. J., & Ilardi, B. 1997. Trait self and true self: Cross-role variation in the Big-Five personality traits and its relations with psychological authenticity and subjective well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73: 1380–1393. Google Scholar
  • Simmel, G. 1971. On individuality and social forms: Selected writings. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Google Scholar
  • Slepian, M. L., Ferber, S. N., Gold, J. M., & Rutchick, A. M. 2015. The cognitive consequences of formal clothing. Social Psychological & Personality Science, 6: 661–668. Google Scholar
  • Smith, R. W., Chandler, J. J., & Schwarz, N. 2020. Uniformity: The effects of organizational attire on judgments and attributions. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 50: 299–312. Google Scholar
  • Solomon, M. 1987. Standard issue. Psychology Today, 21: 30–31. Google Scholar
  • Spreitzer, G. M. 1995. Psychological empowerment in the workplace: Dimensions, measurement, and validation. Academy of Management Journal, 38: 1442–1465.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • Stone, G. P. 1962. Appearance and the self. In A. M. Rose (Ed.), Human behavior and social processes: 86–118. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin. Google Scholar
  • Sullivan, S. E. 1997. Do clothes really make the woman? The use of attire to enhance work performance. Academy of Management Perspectives, 11: 90–91.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • Sutton, A. 2020. Living the good life: A meta-analysis of authenticity, well-being and engagement. Personality and Individual Differences, 153: 109645. Google Scholar
  • Thatcher, S. M., & Zhu, X. 2006. Changing identities in a changing workplace: Identification, identity enactment, self-verification, and telecommuting. Academy of Management Review, 31: 1076–1088.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • Thelwell, R. C., Weston, N. J., Greenlees, I. A., Page, J. L., & Manley, A. J. 2010. Examining the impact of physical appearance on impressions of coaching competence. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 41: 277–292. Google Scholar
  • Zoom mullet. 2020. In Urban dictionary. Retrieved from mullet Google Scholar
  • Veblen, T., & Mills, C. W. 1953. The theory of the bisure class. New York, NY: Menter Book. Google Scholar
  • Wolf, N. 1991. The beauty myth. London, U.K.: Chatto & Windus. Google Scholar
  • Wood, A. M., Linley, P. A., Maltby, J., Baliousis, M., & Joseph, S. 2008. The authentic personality: A theoretical and empirical conceptualization and the development of the Authenticity Scale. Journal of counseling psychology, 55: 385–399. Google Scholar
  • Wray, M. 2020, March 30. Coronavirus chic: Top sales up, bottoms down at Walmart. Retrieved from Google Scholar
  • Zandan, N., & Lynch, H. 2020, June 18. Dress for the (remote) job you want. Harvard Business Review. Google Scholar
  Academy of Management
  555 Pleasantville Road, Suite N200
  Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510-8020, USA
  Phone: +1 (914) 326-1800
  Fax: +1 (914) 326-1900
Academy of Management