In a previous article we explained why dressing well should matter to you.
Long story short, people who dress well are simply treated better than your average person. In fact, there are so many advantages to being well dressed that you would be a fool not look your best every day.
But dressing well doesn’t just affect the way others see you, it also affects the way you see yourself.
And this isn’t some hokey new age mumbo jumbo. This is real science. The phenomenon is called enclothed cognition and it describes the influence that clothes can have on your psychology.
I first came across this interesting phenomenon in the excellent book called You Are Now Less Dumb: How To Conquer Mob Mentality, How To Buy Happiness, and All the Others Ways to Outsmart Yourself.
The book introduced the concept of enclothed cognition thusly:
“The Misconception: Clothes as everyday objects are just fabrics for protection and decoration of the body.
The Truth: The clothes you wear change your behavior and can either add or subtract your mental abilities.”
Sounds crazy doesn’t it? Almost as if your clothes could give you superpowers. But as silly as it sounds according to science it is true.
For example, in one study subjects were divided into two groups with one group instructed to wear lab coats and the other group asked to remain in their street clothes. Both groups then worked on a Stroop test – an exam in which you must identify the colour ink used to print a word. For example, you would first read the words red, green, and blue printed in ink matching the colour’s name. You would then read the same words in ink that didn’t match. In this case the word blue might be written in green and the word red written in blue and so on.
The results of the study showed that the group wearing the lab coats made half as many mistakes when the colours didn’t match the words than the group wearing street clothes. In other words, the mere act of wearing a lab coat actually made people better at a test of attention and sharpness!
In an even more interesting study subjects were divided into three groups. The first group wore a white coat and were told it was the same coat that doctors wore. The second group also wore the same white coats but were told that they were painter’s smocks. The third group didn’t wear any coat but were presented with a coat described as a doctor’s coat and asked to write an essay on what thoughts such a coat brought to their minds. The three groups were then asked to look at sets of two photos side by side and identify four minor but difficult-to-spot differences between the images. The researchers then measured how long it took the subjects to spot the differences between the sets of photos.
The results of the study showed that people who wore what they thought was a painter’s smock spotted the fewest differences in the photos while the people who wore what they believed was a doctor’s coat spotted the most differences. The people who did not wear a coat but were presented with a white coat which they were made to believe was a doctor’s coat spotted more differences than the painter’s smock group but fewer than the doctor’s coat group.
Now, does this mean that I think you should walk around wearing a labcoat or doctor’s coat all day long?
Of course not.
What the phenomenon of enclothed cognition reveals, however, is the importance that clothing has on our psychology. It’s just another reason why you should always dress for success.
Think about it this way, how would you feel if you left the house wearing dirty sneakers, ripped jeans, and a baggy hoody? Would you feel confident and self-assured? Probably not.
By adopting a costume of failure chances are you won’t ask for that promotion, you won’t try to close that important sale, and you definitely won’t ask that cute girl out on a date.
But how would you feel if you were wearing clothes that flattered your physique and complexion, expressed your personality, and were appropriate for the occasion? Probably like a million bucks I’d imagine.
And that’s the power that dressing well can have on your mind. You become a more confident and self-assured person. In a nutshell, a better version of you.
The phenomenon of enclothed cognition confirms what style aficionados have known all along: when you dress your best you can’t help but feel your best too.
Or as it is often refrained, “when you look good you feel good and when you feel good you get good results.”
The science is clear: dress your best each and every day. You can’t afford not to.
Here’s to looking sharp!