Social Norm Violation: Ian Hawkes

I decided that for my social norm violation I wanted to do something subtle, but still in violation of a norm. Though I could predict pretty easily what would happen if I were to wear something totally ludicrous or make a fool of myself, I wanted to see if I could make those around me just slightly uncomfortable.

I violated a social norm by going on a date to a very nice restaurant in a full tuxedo, and my date was wearing a stunning dress. We both looked like we were ready to go to a ball, and I even pushed my gentlemanly skills to the peak with a matching pocket silk. We went to La Jolla groves for dinner, which, though an extremely nice restaurant, does not usually serve guests in tuxedos. 

On the way to the restaurant we got sideways glances from other couples, but nothing too extreme. I’m sure many just assumed we were going to a different venue than them with a different dress standard. In the restaurant we were greeted several times, first by the woman who seated us and next by the waiter, with wide eyes and immediate questioning. They all wanted to know where we were going, and when we told them just to dinner, they were visibly confused.

The strongest reactions I got were from the other guests in the restaurant. As it was a week night, there were only several other couples in the small restaurant, and it was pretty clear that we were putting them all on edge. Men who thought that a shirt and tie was as classy as they could get on a date kept glancing at me, feeling suddenly under-dressed. The girls reacted the same way towards my date, and it was clear that we were putting several of them on edge.

I also noticed that people treated us with great more respect. The tuxedo and nice dress were associated with lost of money and high class in peoples minds, and so it seemed to me that people treated us with an extra hint of respect in their voice. I also found it interesting that though we were the only couple dressed in such a way, we did not feel very out of place. Instead, it seemed to me, that others felt they were under-dressed. If we had dressed down for the dinner, the other couples would have felt more confident, but when we over dressed, even though we were the only ones, I could tell that we were not being looked down on. 

Overall the experience was very interesting. Not only did I have a lovely date, but I was also able to witness some interesting behavior. I think that over dressing has a much different effect on those around you than under dressing does, and I would like to do more research into this interesting phenomenon. 


  1. #1 by christinesellers on June 7, 2012 - 11:12 PM

    Awesome job. My favorite part about your violation was how you made everyone else feel like they were under-dressed. If I had seen a couple like you and your date walk into a restaurant like that on a weed day, I’m certain that I would have been the one to assume you had a lot of money, and then I would have felt that my tire was inadequate. Interesting thing to note on this social norm violation and it’s something I am going to notice from now on.
    Christine Sellers

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