Lauren Rivera, a sociologist at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management (and a Harvard Ph.D.), took a job as a coat-check girl at an elite nightclub, and also interviewed bouncers at length, as part of a study of social status. What signs and markers, she wanted to know, do such clubs look for on in deciding whom to allow past the velvet rope?

“I find that in making such decisions, doormen drew from a constellation of competence and esteem cues, which were informed by contextually specific status schemas about the relative material, moral, and symbolic worth of particular client groups,” Rivera writes, in the abstract to her article “Status Distinctions in Interaction: Social Selection and Exclusion at an Elite Nightclub,” published in “Qualitative Sociology.” Though the doorman interpreted many factors, she continues, “a patron’s perceived social connections seemed to outweigh other types of cues in admissions decisions.”

In an interview with the business-school publication Kellogg Insight, she cut through the professional jargon:

“Know someone. Or know someone who knows someone. If you’re a guy, bring attractive women, ideally younger women in designer clothes. Don’t go with other dudes. And doormen are well versed in trendiness, so wear Coach, Prada, Gucci–but don’t show up in a nice suit with DSW shoes.”

So there you have it. Happy hunting this weekend!