The way we dress may have a bigger influence than you think

For years and years within the fashion world, the way you dress leaves a huge impression on those who analyse your style. However, there could be much more to this than we think. And I’m talking scientific reasons… pretty cool. So, the phrase “enclothed cognition” came to my attention, found in the Journal of Experimental Social Physiology. Enclothed cognition is the effects of clothing on the cognitive process. I looked to Dr Adam D Galinsky for a further in depth explanation. He gives the examples of how “The experience of washing your hands is associated with moral purity and ethical judgments. People rate others personally warmer if they hold a hot drink in their hand, and colder if they hold an iced drink. If you carry a heavy clipboard, you will feel more important.” And so when applied to clothing and the way you dress “clothing affects how other people perceive us as well as how we think about ourselves.” And some may say, we’ve known this for years, yet many minds go through this process without realising. Crazy right? It was found that school students’ clothing styles influence perceptions of academic prowess among peers and teachers (Behling & Williams, 1991) and women who dress in a masculine fashion during a job interview are more likely to be hired.

 [Image courtesy of Google Images]

Experiments have been conducted with lab coated used by doctors, showing that those who thought they were wearing a doctor’s coat felt more confident, gaining higher scores when tested in an exam style, compared to those who were told they were wearing a painter’s coat, yet it was exactly the same white coat.

[Photographed by Arthur Elgort, Vogue, December 2000]

However, there is the deeper question of whether the clothes that you choose to wear affect your own psychological processes. I must admit, when I put on some of my favourite pieces, like my expensive leather jacket, I feel on trend and stylish, which affects my attitude and confidence. There are some pieces of clothing that make you feel good and this translates straight into your body language and even the way you talk. And enclothed cognition gives the in depth scientific meaning behind this. It’s all about a piece of clothing and embodying its symbolic meaning which would trigger associated psychological processes. So if you feel great, you look great!

By Anika Hunt

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