I knew it. I just knew it . . . instinctively. I’ve always known how clothes make me feel. I know when I’ve nailed an outfit, and I know when I haven’t.
In my work life, what I wore could make or break a good day, a meeting with the boss, or that big client presentation. Looking my best meant doing my best.
And now there’s research to prove my intuition. Hah! I feel vindicated for my “silly” obsession with fashion and clothes all these years.
Thanks to cognitive scientists and the advent of the field of “embodied cognition”, which means that we think with our bodies as well as our minds, the effect that clothing has on the wearer’s brain is now being studied.
Researchers Adam Hajo and Adam Galinsky from Northwestern University found that the clothing we wear does affect our psychological states; our thoughts, perceptions and actual performance. They coined the term “enclothed cognition” to describe their findings that clothing impacts us in ways that make us happy, sad, energetic, confident, lazy, etc., and why.
“Clothes invade the body and brain putting the wearer into a different psychological state.” Adam D. Galinsky
For example, in their experiment, Hajo and Galinsky found that if you wear a white coat when taking a test and you believe it is a doctors coat, then your ability to pay attention and perform increases sharply. If you believe the white coat belongs to a painter, it does not.
So the bottom line here is that clothing CAN influence how you think, feel, and act.
What does any of this mean to you and me?
Well, I think it gives us another powerful tool to help us live the life we really want to live. When you look good, you feel good. And when you feel good, you do good. Simply stated (not correct grammatically), but powerful nonetheless.
So, note to self: It’s worth the effort to take the time to choose what you wear more carefully.
I’m not suggesting that we need to dress to the hilt every day. I’m saying that we should put clothes on our bodies that make us feel like our best self.
Now that I’m not dressing for work or client meetings anymore, it’s so easy to fall into a sartorial rut and wear the same old jeans and T’s or yoga pants (after all, I do go to yoga classes every week).
Professor Karen Pine, author of Mind What You Wear: The Psychology of Fashion offers some good advice for those of us who might find ourselves in such a rut.
“The way out of a rut is to break habits, create exciting new experiences. So if life is feeling more than a little monotonous, you’re probably in a wardrobe rut, too. Injecting some novelty into it could really spice things up.”
Professor Pine suggests following one or all of these guidelines for several days to help break free from a style rut:
- Dress to impress – as if you’re off to an important event.
- Wear an old favorite that used to make you feel like a million bucks whenever you wore it. You loved it once, why not wear it again?
- Try a new color combo. (This one is meant for me, definitely.)
- Experiment! Add a standout piece of jewelry, quirky shoes or scarf. Try a style that is the polar opposite of what you typically wear. It may not work, but it might. Either way, you’re bound to gain a new perspective. Just change it up.
There you have it – the intellectual reasoning behind your (or my) passion for fashion. So next time anyone accuses us of being silly to care so much about the clothes we wear, we can tell them that we are actually changing our brains and becoming smarter and more effective at what we do. Yes!
Till next time,