Save. Spend. Splurge.

Men are rich if they wear sweatpants but women are just seen as slobs

I don’t even own a single pair of sweatpants to begin with, but don’t wear sweatpants to fancy stores if you want to be treated well.

“Outside, Jeremy informs me that she definitely gave me a look, one that he characterized as, “What is this bitch doing going to Chanel in sweatpants?


I could have debunked that myth that rich people dress like the Olsen twins even before reading this article and about her experiment!

In my experience, only the people who are regular customers, or celebrities, are able to go into stores looking like they rolled out of bed straight into a pond and picked up some clothes off the floor, and get treated extremely well.

For the rest of us common folk, this is not the case, and we WILL get judged by what we wear!

I know this because I can see the difference based on what I wear (even if I have makeup on or not!), and my mother is a pretty consistent example of this.

She doesn’t dress in the most polished manner to be sure, but she does like to buy nice things once in a while, extremely expensive items that even I would gasp at paying (sometimes!).

Anyway, once my mother went into a store fully intending to buy a couple of expensive pieces and was totally, 100% ignored by two snotty salesgirls.

She was CLEARLY interested in the merchandise, touching the clothing and holding it up to check it, but couldn’t get them to pay attention to her, or even squeak out a “Hello”.

Frustrated, she went next door, was treated very warmly by an associate, got everything she wanted. She even mentioned to the nice associate that she was being rebuffed pretty rudely next door and he laughed telling her that they were all snooty like that at the store because they don’t like their jobs.

On a whim, popped back into the first store to take a look at a top she had touched on her first go round with her new purchases (bags) flashing, and suddenly the two ice queens warmed up immediately to her and started asking if they could do ANYTHING to help.

She gave them an icy stare and walked out, disgusted by their change in behaviour just because she had new shopping bags on her arm.

The best stores and sales associates are the ones who don’t care what you wear and assume your money is as good as anyone else’s, and they NEVER judge the book by its cover.

As another example, a luxury car salesman once told me that he never judged anyone by the way they dressed any longer.

He had been surprised a number of times before with people wearing rather beat up / ordinary togs walking into his dealership and dropping a cheque for a brand new luxury car like it was nothing.

Even if they’re young, he treats them with respect because he doesn’t know if they could be trust fund babies, or just have really rich parents!!

As a result, he’s one of the top selling sales associates at his dealership, whereas the other salesmen tend to judge people based on how they look and what they wear before deciding to approach them and offer to help.

Frankly, people who can’t afford to buy a fancy car or fancy clothes, tend to not even bother going into the stores, ergo, sales associates should be trained to assume that ANYONE who walks into their store has money to burn.


BF tends to wear pretty casual things most days — cargo pants, or sweatpants and a sweatshirt, whereas I am someone who dresses to the nines even to go out for a grocery run (what!? I love clothes!).. anyway, once we were in a car dealership and we got the eye from sales people because they couldn’t reconcile that I was dressed so nicely and he was dressed like a casual jogger, and that we were together.

Then they just assumed that he was rich because I was so kitted out, and he got some seriously nice treatment.

Ironically, when a man dresses badly, but has a nicely-dressed partner, they assume he’s rich, but it doesn’t work the other way around when women dress badly and have a nicely-dressed partners!

I guess they just assumed that he was costly signalling by dressing down deliberately:

… deliberate nonconformity shows that you can handle some ridicule because you’ve got social capital to burn.


A really wealthy person, on the other hand—a high—can distinguish himself from the mediums by choosing not to send costly signals of wealth.

Yep. BF sends out signals that he’s filthy rich because he wears sweatpants



Your money is (and should be) as good as anyone else’s.

You have vote with your purchases, so you can also decide to vote against buying a brand or buying in a store where they don’t treat you as well as they should.

This is what I do.

If I get some rude, snotty treatment in a store, I don’t go back.

Sometimes, I even make it a point to tell them they lost my business.

(Hat tip to Revanche for the links!)


  • dee

    About a year ago i was away for work and went to a luxury car dealership as i was shopping around for a car, and wanted to check out what they had vs my local area. The salesman talked to me but was abrupt and actually left me mid-conversation to talk to an older male customer who had entered. If i had dressed like i had money he probably would have talked to me more. As it stood i felt at the time that it was more because I didn’t fit his idea of who his customers are – i’m a young looking woman. I’ve had similar experiences in stores like your ma and also when trying to buy a house! Oh and I ended up just buying a car from my local dealer who didn’t judge me at all – he just wanted a sale!

  • MakintheBacon

    I can’t believe you don’t own a single pair of sweat pants!! I practically live in my Roots sweatpants. They’re so damn comfy. 🙂

    The last time I went to a fancy store was when I was in NYC for vacation with a girlfriend. We were in casual clothes and went into some of the high end stores on Madison Avenue. We weren’t approached, which I didn’t really mind because we were just looking around to kill time.

  • Anne @ Unique Gifter

    I have experienced a lot of this in the past week actually. We were on vacation in a destination chock a block full of jewelry stores. However, it was a warm tourist destination, so clothing REALLY isn’t a good indicator of wealth. As a result, all of the sales people are extremely nice, regardless of who you are. I tried on $20,000 jewelry, and they just assumed I was capable of paying for it, despite being in sandals, old navy shorts and an american apparel top.
    When we got home, we had to go to a high end retailer to pick up some purchases and they couldn’t quite figure out how to deal with my jean-clad, barely slept self, but when we were picking up several hundred dollars worth of merchandise, it all came together, not that they were bad before.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      The best sales people are the ones who have been trained to assume everyone has money, otherwise it’s really their manager / store’s fault for not training them well.

  • Quaintrelle Georgiana

    This article is great and so true. Reluctant shop assistants are taking away from me the joy of buying something new and pretty. On the other hand I am not fan of those shop assistants who are chasing me round the shop and keep asking if I want to help with something either. And rich people in sweatpants! So true. Why not to enjoy a bit of comfort if they are wealthy and could afford anything.

  • Lila

    I don’t get why some sales associates are snotty especially when they’re not even rich themselves. How would they like to be treated if they came into a store?

    • save. spend. splurge.

      I think working in a luxury store you can also perhaps end up living in a bubble where you absorb the attitudes of your coworkers. It’s also the reason why if I worked in an industry that put a lot of emphasis on fashion, I’d probably end up wearing a lot more designer / fashion forward things than if I worked in an industry that didn’t care.

  • Sara

    I’ve noticed that when I’m shopping makes a huge difference, and I get the best service midday, when I’m wearing my engagement ring and wedding band. (I’m often a wedding band only person.) They’re nothing ostentatious, but I think the combination of time of day + diamonds makes me look like an at-home mother or wife, which I suspect is also taken to mean affluence.

    Also – I agree with Bridget about accessories being able to indicate wealth/spending power. I have a few brand name bags and a Burberry scarf that seem to attract SAs.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      No kidding! I ought to get a fake diamond ring and try it out for myself.

      I don’t really have any brand name or It Bags (yet! Have my eye on a Minkoff MAB Mini), but if they recognize trenchcoats (wool and otherwise), I own and wear Burberry ones..

  • debt debs

    Loved your mamma story.

  • MelD

    Not saying it never happens here, but we notice that in Germany, they will look down on you if you are not dressed “right” for a fancy store or restaurant – that doesn’t happen here. Usually you will be treated well wherever you go, but I have to say I don’t go to the top designer stores on Zurich Bahnhofstrasse much! In fact, I think the attitude here is prejudiced about the Russians – always too fancy and spending too much money and behind their backs, everyone makes fun of the ostentation.
    I think it also depends on confidence or bearing, though. My husband is tall and imposing looking and always get noticed and gets excellent service, just because he expects it, I guess, no matter how he’s dressed, though he’s never in sweats. I am short and middle-aged and am far more likely to be ignored, and often am and have to stand up for myself or be passed over. Recently I spent an hour in the bar of a restaurant I know my husband frequents, just enjoying a cup of tea and a magazine; at first the waiter was a bit irritated that I took up a (small) table alone but he did thaw a bit and made up a special tea for me. However, his attitude altered completely (and he was embarrassed!) when my husband joined me and he realised he is one of his best customers… oops!! I just laughed. He was all attention when we left…

  • GirlinaTrenchcoat

    An aunt once told me if I wanted to be treated well in an upscale store that I should bring around a designer shopping bag stuffed with an empty box, so it looks like I already bought something expensive.

    I thought that was funny and sad at the same time, because it definitely gets the SA’s attention, but then again, wait a minute… if I’m the customer and you’re the salesperson, why do I have to impress YOU when I’M the one spending hundreds of dollars?

    • save. spend. splurge.

      !!! Brilliant 🙂 That’s why people save old shopping bags from luxury stores I guess.

      That’s what I think too — I’m the one with the money, I don’t really care that you don’t want to earn your commission!

  • Tania

    When I was in sales, I had quite a few casually dressed women with no make-up on try on and buy a ton of clothes. They were dressed to go in the dressing room and do some serious shopping. In Hawaii we are generally very casual (not everyone but in general) so I don’t see the same type of judgment. I have however been on the receiving end as a younger person when I went to buy a nice briefcase for myself upon graduation. No one would help me. Many people that are decked out in luxury goods are also in debt. I used to have employees in my office bugging me for their paycheck early while they literally stood in front of me carrying a huge luxury bag and in head to toe designer.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      If I am seriously shopping, I don’t wear uncomfortable clothes with makeup. I wear comfortable clothes that come off easily in a changing room and wear minimal makeup so that I can do some major damage!!

      Did you ever give them a paycheque early?

      • Tania

        @save. spend. splurge.: No, I didn’t. We actually used a service. We processed the timeclock data locally but loaded the data into a payroll provider’s system. They handled processing the payroll computations, remitting the taxes, printing the checks and delivering the checks to us. As soon as the checks hit my office, the courier was called to deliver to the different stores and warehouses. We could do manual checks but that was only for big corrections or last day paycheck. I used to always encourage people to sign up for direct deposit, that way the money is in their account first thing in the morning. In the US, it’s not required to do direct deposit or a swipe card, people can still opt to get a paper check.

  • anon

    A few years ago, I used to mystery shop at saks 5th avenue, neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and Michael Kors. The stores specifically asked me to dress as a wealthy customer (conservatively dressed even specified the number of pieces of jewelry I should wear). I didn’t always dress in designer clothing because I was a poor student (wore good quality ankle pants and white shirt). I was always helped and the associates were nice. The one time I was spoken to in a condescending tone was by a sales associate of the same ethnicity as me. I guess she couldn’t believe that someone like us could afford to shop at that store.

  • K

    Julia Roberts taught us this lesson pretty well in Pretty Woman

    and as a sales associate in a NON commissioned based atmosphere I can tell you that just as many people (if not more) in amazing outfits have their cards rejected at the registers as those wearing more casual attire…

  • Erika

    I’ve experienced this a time or two. A few times while shopping in high fashion boutiques and once while furniture shopping. In fact, the salesman at the furniture store wouldn’t even price the leather sofas for me because he didn’t think I could afford them. He kept saying “oh those are sooo expensive.” I live in a college town where I often have the misfortune of being mistaken for a student, though I’ve been a working professional for over six years.

    During college I worked in the horse breeding industry and I learned that the people who acted or looked like they had money were far from it. Generally, it was the polite unassuming clients who were actually the wealthiest.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      That’s quite rude and annoying to be treated like you don’t have any money. I had that once with shopping for cameras, they kept telling me: Oh that is REALLY expensive.

      Me: That’s nice. What’s the price?

      Them: In the thousands

      Me: Specifically?

      It was like pulling teeth.

  • Bridget

    I don’t experience this very often but I do know I’m approached faster and nicely when I’m wearing something that signals I might spend a lot (ie. my marc jacobs bag).

    Never thought about how it might be different for men, but you’re right they can definitely get away with more casual wear.

  • AdinaJ

    I totally agree that the best stores/salespeople are the ones who assume nothing. I have been in countless stores where I was given the up-and-down for, presumably, not meeting the salesperson’s idea of an ideal customer. And I always cringe, because no matter what’s in my bank account now, I still feel like I did as a poor kid/teenager – like I don’t belong.

    Anyway, the best service I ever experienced was, ironically (based on my expecations), at Cartier. My husband and I (and our very active toddler) went in to look for a gift. It was, if not a once in a lifetime kind of thing, still a very special one. We were not really dressed up, as we were on vacation; we had a messy stroller with us, and looked more like people that you’d see at Walmart than at Cartier. To get in, you have to be buzzed in through 2 sets of doors, and that put me on edge immediately. But once we were inside, the salespeople were lovely. There was no attitude, and no raised eyebrows when our son started running around their store. We were looking at what is probably one of their cheaper/cheapest items, but no one tried to rush us, or looked down their nose at us. A few weeks later, we got a thank you card in the mail from our salesperson, which I’m sure is standard practice but a nice touch that more “luxury” retailers should consider. Anyway, I don’t know if I will ever get to shop there again, but I’d love to experience that kind of customer service again.

    Tl;dr this was infinitely better service than I’ve had at places that like to project an air of exclusivity but which, in fact, are aimed at a broader market. It seems like a lot of those places pay their sales staff extra to be snooty, perhaps thinking that this will awe customers into thinking they are actually getting better quality for their money than they are.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      For me, quite good customer service was at Burberry. There’s one lovely salesperson there whom I always make a point to search out because she gives such excellent service. The other ones are great too but I have some sort of connection with her, even if I am not a “regular”.

      Otherwise, I don’t really visit luxury retailers. Burberry has been the only one… Unless you count Holt Renfrew? They’re snotty there too.

  • Michelle

    Love the pic of Galeries Lafayette! That was one serious shopping mall to see in Paris and surprisingly I emerged from it without buying anything. Shocking I know.
    Some of the salespeople in North America need to take lessons from Parisians, most of the sales people in Paris know that some of the wealthy ladies go shopping in their ballet flats, jeans and a T with hair quickly put up. They still look relatively polished but more or less casual and they get the appropriate attention.
    Too many people here have the wrong perceptions of wealth. Last month I had a bad experience in a Coach store AND I was dressed in my dressy work clothes. The salesgirl greeted me immediately but as soon as she found out I was returning something she got cold, even though I could have purchased something else she forgot that, mouthed to her friends “taking so long” not realizing I was watching. Once she did notice I had seen what she did I swear she turned a whiter shade of pale. Funny thing is, she actually had the nerve to hand me her card which I proceeded to tear up when I left the store and sent a letter to Coach stating I would no longer be buying anything and unsubsribed from all emails. Better for me all around to not shop.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      In Paris I got some serious customer service. They were on me like white on rice because they know tourists have money to burn, and not only that, it doesn’t matter what you look like as long as you have the cash.

      I think if you showed up in sweatpants and spoke English they’d still serve you happily thinking you’re a rich tourist.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      I would have ripped up her card in front of her face.

    • GirlinaTrenchcoat

      @Michelle: I had a bad experience similar to that at Nordstrom once. I was looking to buy makeup and the SA was nice, until I mentioned I would be using rewards points to pay for my purchase. She got really cold and made me feel like I was wasting her time.

      Thank goodness she’s the only rude SA I ever got at that store.

      • save. spend. splurge.

        Ooh that is rude. I mean what’s the point of reward points if you can’t use them and not feel bad?

        • GirlinaTrenchcoat

          @save. spend. splurge.: Yep.. and I was thinking “um.. do you know how much I’ve spent in this store to even qualify for the amount of rewards I am using right now?”

      • Michelle

        @GirlinaTrenchcoat: Wow! You would think she wouldn’t care because she was getting the sale regardless. She should have looked at it as an opportunity, usually when a customer has reward points you’re a loyal customer and possibly buy regularly. So sad…

        • GirlinaTrenchcoat

          @Michelle: Exactly! I was mulling over more things in addition to my original purchases, but after her attitude I said forget it. There ya go, sales lost. Tsk.

  • Clarisse @ Make Money Your Way

    I remember in one movie, one guy went to the store, “take note” the guy wore a simple short and a not so clean T-shirt. The guard talked to him and asked him to leave, but the guy refuses, then came the manager who tried to push him away, but they were so shocked when that guy went outside and drove his red Ferrari car! 🙂

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