I have a thing for a white crisp button-down, heels and red lipstick. Whenever I need to feel confident and powerful this is my go-to outfit. I have worn it for a presentation at work as well as during an uncomfortable conversation with a boyfriend. It somehow has a magical power that makes me carry myself differently. I hold my head up higher, sit up straight and carry myself with more grace and style. I enjoy checking my reflection out in shopping windows which reassures me that ‘I got this’.
Today however I woke up late, so I didn’t have time to iron. I put on a random t-shirt stylishly sprinkled with dog hair as I’m also out of sticky rollers. It is gray and cold outside so I piled on a chunky sweater, thick socks and a scarf that keeps me warm while adding at least 10 kg plus. I was already late for work and coffee won over makeup. I thought I could still get away with no-make up. Well I can’t. I’ve spent the whole day avoiding mirrors, chose to sit in a corner at the morning meeting so nobody would see my face and can’t wait the day to be over. I feel like crap and I look like crap. Not even sure which was earlier.
Does this sound familiar?
According to psychologist professor Karen J. Pine putting on a piece of clothing which carries a symbolic meaning can change a person’s self-perception and even their though process. It can make them feel more or less attractive, confident or powerful she calls it ‘enclothed cognition’.
In her book Mind what you wear she describes several experiments where college students scored higher in confidence tests while wearing a super-man t-shirt than those who wore a simple blue shirt. She also proved that women do worse in math tests while wearing a swimsuit than those in a full outfit. Not very surprisingly wearing swimming trunks didn’t affect the numeric abilities of men.
Her findings suggest that what we wear can have an impact on our:
- unconscious mind
- assertive abilities
- sense of responsibility
Her studies even go further and state that the type of sported clothing could also be a sign of depression or other serious mental illness while on the other hand a well crafted wardrobe can boost happiness and excitement towards life.
So it seems like we have the Holy Grail to our happy and successful life hanging right in our wardrobes. Ok maybe it is a bit more complex than that but it is worth an experiment. Join me for a quest to find out how can we use the full potential of getting dressed to make our lives a bit happier while respecting the Planet and its resources 🙂