The clothes you wear and the way you present will change the way other people hear what you say. It will subconsciously tell them if you’re like them or different. It will determine the way they see you, whether they listen to you, and whether they trust you.
Studies have shown that how we dress affects how people perceive us. In one study co-written by University of Kansas psychology professor Omri Gillath in 2012, participants accurately judged the age, gender, income, and other attributes of people based on photographs they provided of the shoes they wore most often! In a recent article titled ‘Dressing for Happiness’, by Rebecca Howden, WellBeing magazine, she states, “Fashion is often dismissed as superficial, however there is a deeper connection to how we dress and how we feel”. Her research includes behavioural psychologist Professor Carolyn Mair, the author of The Psychology of Fashion, who writes, “when we try on new clothing, we can see ourselves as a different person and take on a new identity and mood”. Enclothed Cognition is used to describe the effect what we wear has on psychological processes such as emotions, self-evaluation, attitude, and interaction with others. Also, as a society, we place symbolic meaning on clothing and evaluate people based on how they present. Through years of social conditioning our unconscious decision-making process goes into autopilot. When Barack Obama spoke to an audience of working-class people while campaigning for President, he replaced his suit with casual pants and shirt with sleeves rolled up. This sent a powerful message that he was hard working, relatable, trustworthy, understanding – and above all else, one of them. We judge people during first contact based on what they wear according to the occasion, and we judge ourselves on how we present because of the way it makes us feel. Suits are associated with power, and prestige and wearing power clothing makes us feel stronger, smarter, and more confident. A more casual, relaxed dress code makes us appear more friendly, approachable, and creative. Wearing gym clothes encourages us to work out and make healthier lifestyle choices. How you dress changes the perception of who you are. It changes the value of what you say to the people who are looking and listening. Dress like a judge, have authority, wisdom, power; a fireman or policeman, a hero because they run towards danger and save people. Research has established a link to suggest people unconsciously behave in a way that is matched to their dress. Ipso facto, dress for the role, have the role! Your clothes tell the story of you and make you relatable or not, trustworthy or not, professional or not, consistent or not, clean, sharp, to the point, or not! In another study some university students were asked to wear a superhero costume. Results showed that superman impersonators believed themselves to be stronger, superior and more likable compared to their ordinarily dressed peers. Think it into existence, speak it into existence, dress it into existence – and it will exist! Clothing has a powerful effect on how we feel. When we look good, we feel good. When we feel good, we gain confidence. Confidence unleashes our inner strength and abilities. It impacts how we think and feel, the way we perform and act, and what other people think of us.