It's no secret people are judged in seconds by their appearance.
The Journal of Consumer Research and authored by doctoral student Silvia Bellezza and two Harvard professors -- found that luxury shop assistants in Milan perceived those outfitted in gym clothes as more moneyed than people who were spiffed up. It makes sense, as confident types -- and confidence is key here, you must come off like you're deviating from the norm on purpose -- typically don't see the need to overcompensate.
A fashionista writer decided to test this theory out hitting Madison Avenue and wearing a baggy Hanes sweatshirt and Russell sweatpants. She finished off the look with a pair of black and white Nike Airs, a plain black coat and an unidentifiable simple brown leather tote. Three out of five stores ignored her. Why did they even bother with this study as we all know from experience that if we look sketchy the sales staff will ignore us. We've proven it to ourselves time and again. Of course sometimes when they run right up and offer to help it's because they are keeping an eye out for shoplifters.
Bad service from sales people at a certain high-end Canadian retail store who intimated that nothing less should be bought or worn left me cold and not buying at all. After standing too long behind the counter some of these sales associates begin to think they own the place and everything in it, and they choose who they want to mingle with. Big mistake!
I owned retail stores from 1974-1998 and know, from life experience, never to judge people by the manner in which they are dressed. Whether someone is a potential customer at that particular time or not is completely irrelevant. As a sales person, you assist ANY person in your establishment out of simple common courtesy. If they buy something great, if they don't you did your part by being a great person and if some day they are able to afford whatever it was you were selling, guess who they'll go back to.
As a store owner if I had ever seen an employee ignore or look down at anyone in my store they would be fired on the spot. I don't care if you're selling toilet paper or designer bags, everyone deserves to be respected enough to be acknowledged.
As Edina says in Absolutely Fabulous when she encounters such staff: "You only work in a shop you know, you can drop the attitude".