Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Jose Cortina

Second Advisor

Andra Serban

Third Advisor

Alexander McKay

Fourth Advisor

Eden King


Perceptions of clothing can be distinctive, varying across individuals, situations, cultures, and time. Evidence from daily life and from existing literature across disciplines, although disparate, all point to the importance of clothing in the workplace. In this dissertation, I first review existing literature and identify three universal and distinctive clothing characteristics at work - formality, provocativeness, and fashionability - as well two other categories - uniforms and religiosity of clothing - which are tied to particular social groups. Drawing on attribution theory and the stereotype content model, I provide a cohesive conceptual framework in which clothing characteristics influence observers’ perceptions of wearer’s competence and warmth through observers’ dispositional attribution processes. These perceptions, in turn, influence performance appraisals and supportiveness directed at wearers. I conducted an experimental vignette study to test this conceptual model. The results of this dissertation study suggested some interactive effects. For example, some differential effects of clothing provocativeness were observed for male versus female wearers. The mediation model analyses suggested that perceived competence can be the mediator of the effects of provocative clothing on both performance evaluation and workplace supportiveness for female wearers. Additionally, moderation analyses indicated that the effect of fashionable clothing on warmth perceptions of a wearer in the workplace was influenced by observers' clothing sensitivity. I conclude by offering suggestions for future research and implications for employees and employers with regard to managing clothing practices and avoiding potential biases.


© Yingyi Chang

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission


Available for download on Sunday, May 07, 2028