Health and Wellness

Are You What You Wear? How Our Clothes Affect Our Personality

By : Nicole Noel 

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There’s a new theory developing in the field of social psychology and it’s all about the phenomena of the so-called “enclothed cognition”. Simply put, the scientists are investigating how clothes can affect cognitive processes and these findings are making a huge twist in a growing scientific field called embodied cognition. The idea is that people give symbolic meaning to a certain piece of attire, so when they wear it, it’s like playing certain roles.

This was tested by giving people white lab coats and telling them they’re either physicians or painters and then observed their behavior. It turns out that people identify themselves with the role given so those who were pretending to be doctors showed some of the most common characteristics we link to their profession, such as caring, diligence, and attentiveness to details.

However, this is not just about lab coats – that old saying “you are what you wear” proves to be truthful in almost all aspects of life, so let’s see how your clothes can affect your personality and health.

Confidence boosts

In the light of recent findings, it turned out that the “power tie” is a real thing but it doesn’t have to be just blue or red. The color is irrelevant, it’s the tie and the suit that accompanies her that can make you feel powerful and boost your confidence. How come? A research showed that wearing a suit gives you a feeling of being in control of the situation and thus have better insights and make better work-related decisions. So, wearing a suit isn’t just a matter of fashion but a matter of power.

A similar thing happened when another researcher gave students Superman T-shirts to wear – it made them not only more confident but they also thought they’re actually physically stronger than their colleagues. It’s a matter of symbolics Superman T-shirt carries – people identify with its superiority and can’t help themselves but feel great while wearing it.

The same goes for sexy underwear – women usually wear it to seduce their partners but that’s not how it actually works. Lace panties, tight corsets, and sheer gowns will make a woman feel confident and that’s where the sex appeal comes from, not the other way around. Femininity, confidence and sex appeal are closely intertwined and it all comes from the power pretty lingerie brings into your life.

Inducing creativity

Just like in that research regarding the enclothed cognition phenomena, many studies confirmed that wearing a business suit can make your mind more creative and open to fresh ideas. The way you dress changes your perception of the people, objects, and events around you and make you look at them in a different, more creative light. Business attires also increase abstract thinking which is an essential part of creativity and long-term strategies. It’s about both how you perceive yourself when wearing a suit and how others see you and it’s probably equally important.

Another study, which researched the significance of clothing during negotiations, showed that men who wore informal clothes had lower testosterone levels which further reduced their aggression and thus made them less successful in arguments. This means that clothes we wear can not only affect our personality and mental health but also our physical condition.

Everyone looks good in red

Many women experienced the same thing: men were approaching them more when they wore a red piece of attire and that’s why most of them think that’s because they look good in red. But the truth is: everyone looks good in red because the color red is connected to the primal instincts in some animals and humans. Namely, red is attractive to the male species, so red dress makes a woman sexually desirable to men. This happens on a subconscious level meaning that men are not aware of this attraction. What’s even more interesting – the color red won’t affect women’s perception of other women. So, if you’re a heterosexual woman, wearing red to a date could seal the deal.

There’s also an interesting phenomenon connected to the colour red and it’s known as “the red sneakers effect”. Namely, researchers found out that people prefer when other people wear clothing that matches their expectations, so doctors should wear white coats while little boys should wear blue. However, there’s an exception to this – people love when others break a norm but only slightly. So, a lecturer who wore red Converse sneakers during his class gained more respect and it’s all because of that slight deviation from the norm. So, when you ditch a convention or two, people can perceive you as a powerful and brave person.

Motivation to work out

Given the fact that you really are what you wear, it’s no surprise that the so-called athleisure trend is such a huge thing in fashion right now. It’s a fashion philosophy that allows you to wear active wear whenever and wherever you want. Besides the practicality, it’s obvious why athleisure is trending – it’s comfy and it’s easier to choose what you’re going to wear for the day.

When you add to the equation the fact that pretty gym clothes can motivate you to work out, you’ll understand why the athleisure trend is here to stay. There are many studies confirming this theory and one of them showed that wearing workout gear can make you exercise harder but also make it feel easier. It’s as simple as dressing for the part – if you’re having a hard time forcing yourself to go the gym, try putting on sneakers and leggings as soon as you get up, since it can actually motivate you to finally go to the gym. The psychology behind it is pretty simple – you can’t wear active wear and be a couch potato, right?

Some studies showed that certain clothes can even make you lose weight. If you wear your favourite tight jeans to dinner, they can work as a physical reminder to stop eating when you’re full. It’s that simple because it makes you aware of your belly and gives you a subconscious signal to stop when things get too tight.

Dressing for the age you feel like

It’s true that the line between “old people’s clothes” and “young people’s clothes” is getting blurrier by the year but there’s still a lot of debate what’s appropriate for a certain age and what’s not. However, a research proved that what you wear can affect the way you age, your health, and even your longevity. It’s basically like dressing young to feel young but also so much more than that.

For example, the same research showed that women who had a haircut or dyed their hair look younger in photographs to independent raters. But, more importantly, a change in haircut can cause a blood pressure to drop and thus improve one’s health. The same is with men – they usually see baldness as a sign of old age and thus men who bald prematurely tend to see themselves as older and, consequently, age much faster. That means that an image you have of yourself can affect both your personality and health without you even noticing it. That’s where clothes come to the rescue – so, dress for the age you feel like and you’ll surely feel the difference.

Dress to impress

We all try not to judge by the first impression but the power of the first contact can’t be neglected. And because it’s usually the most noticeable thing on a person, clothing can influence all kinds of impressions people will have about you. First of all, the clothes you wear will show off your social status and your cultural values and it all starts in the early childhood. From “pink is for girls, blue is for boys” to choosing the colours you’ll wear depending on the event (for example, black is for funerals, white is not welcomed at the weddings), it’s clear that the clothes we wear not only define us but we also use them to define ourselves.

Bearing this in mind, it’s no wonder why personal branding is gaining more popularity by the day. And it’s not just for celebrities – everyone can now hire a team of branding specialists and consultants to help them come up with a unique personal style. Everything from body type and skin colour to wardrobe accounts in for your personal style and affects your self-image, so it’s clear why wearing certain clothes is one of the most powerful ways to send a message to the world.

Yes, clothing can help you send and deliver a message but it’s up to you to choose what kind of message you’ll send. As you can see, dressing up is a powerful thing and, as it is with every weapon – it should be used carefully so it doesn’t turn against you. So, use your wardrobe smartly – to express yourself, boost your personality and health, and show the world who you really are. It can really make a difference!


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