Bianca Heyward
August 21, 2017 11:11 am
Warner Bros.

When we get dressed each day, the majority of us don’t know exactly how much impact our sartorial choices have on our mood. The clothing we wear affects us on many levels, and when you think about it, it makes sense. If you purchase workout clothes that you love, you’ll be more inspired and inclined to hit the gym. If you wear a pair of jeans that get you excited because they fit just right, your confidence soars.

The psychology of fashion is undeniable, and academic studies show a direct link between your cognitive behavior and your appearance. So when you get dressed, think about it, and be conscious of your visual vocabulary. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind, so you can both look and feel great.

The Symbolism Behind Your Clothing

In 2012, the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology published a study entitled, “Enclothed Cognition,” highlighting the ways in which wearing different articles of clothing can impact your brain. The authors of the study, Adam D. Galinsky and Adam Hajo, use the term enclothed cognition “to describe the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes.”

In an experiment conducted for the study, they dressed volunteers in white lab coats and other volunteers in everyday clothing. After they were outfitted, everyone was assigned focus-related tasks to complete. They found an increase in attention in those who were wearing lab coats as opposed to their counterpart. The lab coat, a symbolic article of clothing for a scientist, encouraged the subjects to change their thinking to match the work associated with their apparel. Point being: You can change your performance by changing your clothing. You can alter your mood with what you wear.

Formal and Casual Wear

Another study, which was completed in 2015, The Cognitive Consequences of Formal Clothing, asked volunteers to wear casual and elegant clothing, respectively, prior to completing the tasks and tests assigned. The results suggest that formal attire encourages an increased sense of power, confidence, and creative thinking.

Color

The colors you wear also have physiological effects on you. In 2013, the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology published a study that examined the effect of the color red on athletes. They paired 28 male athletes of similar size, strength, and age to compete against each other in combat-like situations. Half of the men were dressed in a red jersey, and the other half in blue.

The athletes in red had higher heart rates during the match, when compared to their blue opponents, and they were able to lift heavier weights before the test had started. The results suggest that color has the ability to influence cognitive and physical functions.

Take Time To Assemble Your Outfit

Instead of scrambling in the morning to get dressed for work, school, or whatever you have planned, think about what clothing will suit you best. Think of it as a strategy. By laying out what to wear beforehand, you’re preparing yourself to succeed and make an impression.

Professor Karen Pine, author of Mind What You Wear: The Psychology of Fashion, argues that what you decide to wear might just be the most important and impactful decision you’ll make all day. Many people plan their outfits in advance for special events, such as birthdays or weddings. When you graduate — wearing the traditional cap and gown — you feel proud and accomplished, and that feeling shows when you walk down to get your diploma. So, why not plan accordingly every day?

Dressing For The Task At Hand

If you’re studying, working, practicing for a test, it’s all too tempting to throw on soft sweatpants. Don’t. The chemistry in your brain subconsciously links this type of loungewear to the physical experience of sleeping and relaxing. Odds are, you’re going to get tired soon, solely because you’re wearing sweats. Instead, put jeans or trousers on to set your brain on the right track.

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