Can I Ask What You’re Wearing?

Updated: Apr 30

Odd question to ask, right? I have a reason for asking, and it’s not creepy.

As you well know, and as Business Insider states; “Research shows that your appearance strongly influences other people's perception of your financial success, authority, trustworthiness, intelligence, and suitability for hire or promotion.” [1] To phrase that a little different, what you wear is generally the first thing people notice and judge. What you wear indicates to the sort of person you are. Since we all know that your clothes might affect the thoughts of others around you, let us ask; can they affect you personally?

Simply put; yes. Your clothes can effect how you think and even behave.

Have you ever come to find that you seem to study a little better when you’re not in your pajamas? How about when you’re wearing a shirt rather than a t-shirt? Was that shirt bright, dark, or somewhere in the middle? Obviously this isn’t solely tied to study, but to multiple topics. Do you ever get more done when you dress early in the morning? Maybe you clean the house, go for walks, pop to the shop, jump out of an airplane, etc... Whatever it may be, did you feel more accomplished at the end of the day? Even if you haven’t, research suggests that more likely than not, you have been somewhat influenced by what you’re wearing.

A study was carried out by the Kellogg School of Management, and published in The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology [2][3], which tested whether or not someone’s performance levels had increased when wearing a scientist’s or doctor’s white coat. More interestingly, they questioned whether the results were effected when the coat was labeled a painter’s coat. They came to show that the performance had been effected, and even more so than one would expect. This suggests that the significance isn’t just in the colour, texture or formality of the clothing, but the symbolism behind it to any particular individual.

If you wanted to stick on a crown and dress like King Edward the 1st, or wanted to look more like a Leprechaun, you do that! Just make sure it’s in line with what you’re trying to achieve that day. What I'm trying to say is "when we put on a piece of clothing we cannot help but adopt some of the characteristics associated with it, even if we are unaware of it." [4]

To take it even further, another study was released suggesting that the colour of the clothing can effect neurological responses in the brain, and even the release of certain hormones. For example wearing and, therefore, looking at bright, warm colours such as red or pink, triggers the release of dopamine – our “feel good hormone”. Wearing blue is known to “stimulate the release of the calming hormone oxytocin." [5] Obviously, this doesn’t just effect the one wearing such clothes, but those around them too. What you wear influences the behavior of others, without either party even knowing about it; “While a good suit works wonders for our performance in the boardroom; wearing formal wear isn’t a great idea when we want to socialize. Studies have found that people tend to be less open and find it more difficult to relax when they wear formal clothes.” [6] This is possibly why I personally work/study much better, and concentrate harder when I wear formal clothes - because I don’t relax. So when the down-time begins in the evening, ensure to be wearing down-time appropriate clothes.

Before you go, I want to take you back to my original question; what are you wearing? What do you wear when you see your friends; when you go to work; when you go to school? Those of us not in school anymore, what did we have to wear? Teachers always told us to eat well before study; sleep well at night; and work in twenty-five minute blocks. Well here’s a new one they overlooked. This begs the question about uniform; when everyone associates uniform with emotions of frustration, obligations, even time-wasting and hatred; what effects does this have when we put it on? As always, that argument won’t ever go anywhere, so I’m not going to bother. However, in other areas of our day-to-day lives, it can impact our psychology.

To finish up, what you wear is not going to turn you into a study/work machine. Even if you don’t think the proven effect of your clothing is a big enough factor to actually consider it, consider this; if you start the day with a shower, get dressed, have a good meal, and then something else of positive association; before you know, the day is gone and you’ve actually gotten things done. Trust me, this has happened for me on numerous occasions.

Jack, at Interconnected.









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