Confidence and Clothes: The Correlation
By Lizzy Van Heest
We all know that how we dress reflects who we are, but a lesser-acknowledged adage is that our clothes also reflect who we want to be. Psychologists are making huge strides toward understanding why the human brain is so consumed with fashion and invested in the symbolism of clothing — not to mention the correlation between confidence and clothes. All to say, you now have more justification than ever for your exorbitantly large closet and extensive shoe collection!
Psychologist Adam D. Galinsky coined the term enclothed cognition. Enclothed cognition “involves the co-occurrence of two independent factors — the symbolic meaning of the clothes and the physical experience of wearing them.” In other words, you cannot help but absorb some of the characteristics associated with a clothing items brand or image. For example, while wearing a Chanel suit you would feel classic, elegant or timeless; And while wearing Julieta shoes, you will be enshrined in confidence and emboldened by the effortlessly sleek, stylish silhouette.
Dr. Galinsky observed this phenomenon of characteristic adaptation by analyzing individuals’ capacity to concentrate. Subjects performed a series of tests and their baseline focus levels were established. When the same individuals were asked to repeat the study while wearing a white lab coat, they exhibited higher levels of prolonged focus and improved their scores. These individuals adapted the characteristics they associated with the lab coat and demonstrated similar skills to that of a doctor, simply by dressing in their uniform. The study’s results act as scientific evidence: that what we wear alters our capacity for success.
It is human nature to judge others based on their clothing and appearance, regardless of conscious intent. In a world where it often feels like nothing is in your control, take charge of the things that are and dress in a way that makes you feel strong, powerful, and valuable. There is no price tag on confidence and the contribution clothing has to our self esteem. The additional benefits of career propulsion are both intangible and innumerable. So, next time you feel misguided for placing high emphasis on your wardrobe, remember that each outfit holds great potential and affects how you approach both the external world and your internal world.