Do the Clothes We Wear Affect Our Self-Confidence?

“The way we dress affects the way we think, the way we feel, the way we act and the way others react to us.”

Judith Rasband, President & CEO of Conselle Institute of Image Management

Have you ever noticed the way that little black dress makes you feel when you wear it? Or how you feel when you step out in old sweats for an errand that just can’t wait. Fashion is not only a form of self-expression but it is also a language that everyone speaks. Through your clothing choices you can speak to the world without uttering a single word.

What we wear not only affects other’s perception of us but it also can affect our self-confidence and mood. This phenomenon is called “Enclothed Cognition”. Enclothed Cognition is the influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychological and performance processes. Enclothed cognition involves two factors; the symbolic meaning of clothes and the physical experience one has while wearing those clothing items.

Psychologist and Author Karen J. Pine has written a book titled Mind What You Wear: the Psychology of Fashion. In that book there is a brilliant quote that rings very true. Karen J. Pine stated “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”. So that is why I feel so bad a** in my moto jacket!

The Studies

Dr. Adam Galinsky, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, conducted a series of studies on the effects clothing can have on our cognitive processes.

The first study consisted of two groups. Group one wore white lab coats while group two wore street clothes. Both groups were then given a selective attention test in which participants were instructed to spot inconsistencies. Group one (the lab coat group) made almost half as many errors as group two.

The second study examined three groups. Group one wore the white lab coats, group two wore painters coats and group three was instructed to simply look at white lab coats that were on a table. All three groups were then asked to spot differences in pictures. Group one (lab coats) found more differences than groups two and three.

The results of Dr. Galinsky’s studies has opened our eyes to enclothed cognition and the fact that clothing may enhance our moods and performances.

Other studies have shown that dressing well improves your performance, boosts other’s impression of you and affects how you feel about yourself.

Dr. Rosina Racioppi, President and CEO of Women Unlimited INC, has stated “Clothing significantly influences how others perceive you and how they respond to you”. There is that unspoken language of fashion I mentioned earlier!

Why You Should Dress Well

There are so many reasons to dress well. And while I don’t dress to the nines while I am home, I do get out of jammies and into something that makes me feel cute. I find that getting dressed for the day motivates me and I tend to accomplish more. But don’t get it twisted, I do have my occasional sweats day. We all deserve one every once in awhile!

  • Boost your confidence
  • Improve your performance and mood
  • Form of self expression
  • Clothing and accessories can be conversation starters
  • You can choose how you want others to perceive you. Unfortunately, your smarts and personality are not the first things people see.
  • Developing our own style is like finding yourself
  • Going bold or trying something new can make you feel empowered
  • Dressing well requires motivation and responsibility. Taking the time each day to dress well can help improve those two skills.
  • Everyday is a chance to network and make connections. You never know who you will run into at the grocery store!
My first outing as a new mom. This BCBG dress made me feel like I got my groove back and like I wasn’t a exhausted mom haha!

It only takes one-tenth of a second for us to make a first impression of someone. What are your clothes saying about you?

If you aren’t dressing how you want to be addressed, its all good girl. That’s what I am here for 😉

“Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; Dress impeccably and they remember the woman.”

Coco Chanel

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