Is wearing certain types of fashion more likely to make us feel better about ourselves? Does an elegant outfit actually influence us to be more elegant and graceful? According to a research study from Northwestern University, the answer is a resounding YES. The study coined the term “enclothed cognition” to describe the mental changes that we undergo when we wear certain clothing.
It's simplistic to think that putting on some elegant outfit will make us become more graceful. However, "Enclothed cognition" proposes that the clothes we wear directly affect how we think and what we do. The research has discovered that the clothes we wear actually invade our body and our brain, putting us into a different psychological state. Our clothes actually can influence the way we feel, our behaviour and even the way we think and act. For example, the more professional we choose to dress, the more we begin to act and feel professional. On the other hand, dressing like a slob could influence us to behave like a slob.
The "Enclothed cognition" study is an extension of the "embodied cognition" school of psychology which says our bodies influence our brains as much as our brains influence our bodies. In essence, this field explores how the body influences the brain: our physical experiences affect our thinking. The study suggested that our clothes truly affect how we perceive ourselves. Even if no one sees us, our clothes influence our cognition.
I find this whole topic extremely intriguing. Perhaps, then, we can dress to become more generative, a more exuberant expression of life and abundance in all things, even if we are alone. Dressing like a business woman may make us behave more generative. Not to be too serious or trying to make this significant, but could the adage “you are what you wear” be true? What if the ‘uncaring attitude’ with the way we dress reveals what we think about ourselves or who we are choosing to be? For example, you might choose to wear a really gorgeous outfit just being at home by yourself– because even though no one will see you, you will behave differently than if you are wearing sweatpants.
Why does this matter?
Since most of us choose to get dressed when we get out of bed, being aware of the fact that clothing makes us feel and behave can inspire us to make smarter choices when we buy our clothes. When you have the awareness of this, you have choice and you won’t be the effect of it any more.
Practically speaking, knowing that the way we dress can influence our behaviour and even the way we think and act will allow us to be more aware of our choices. Just know that to dress like a slob is a choice and be in allowance of your choice to choose what is right for you. So when you make a choice, recognize what possibilities or limitations are being generated with that choice. It is amazing that you can change one choice and it will change your entire day.