She walks in her well-tailored black blazer and slacks, paired with pointed-toe pump heels, while her hair is neatly packed into a top-knot bun. You, undoubtedly, think of her to be a powerful or confident woman. That’s the power outfits possess.
Clothing is a very influential tool in the fashion industry, a tool that helps project a self-image that you want to display. It’s a wordless means to communicate a powerful message to those around you. Fashion, in turn, becomes your language, which speaks a certain story about you.
You can put on an outfit and it can make you appear a specific way. It is why wearing luxury brands impacts the social power of many, compared to the ordinary branded labels.
For some people, fashion becomes a drug-free boost that alters a terrible day they went through, or it can be a form of escapism, which lets them speak with wild convictions and return to something else later. It can make anything appear exciting or extremely boring. Your clothes also indicate how you want to be treated or what social group you would fit into.
But it’s not just limited to that, it also changes the way you feel about ‘yourself’. It’s a novel concept, a term coined as enclothed cognition, that people have now started to acknowledge and recognise.
Your feelings are the real barometer of your fashion. You arm yourself with your best outfit, when you want things to go a certain way. It’s an extension of one’s self, a way of syncing the internal with the external.
The cuts, designs, patterns and colours, all play starring role in making an outfit to be what it is.
Enclothed cognition provides scientific proof to the notion of dressing how you want to feel, instead of how you already feel, as it influences your mood. You subconsciously experience a change in your behavior, a mental shift, when you dress a certain way.
For instance, power dressing, a very popular concept, increases dominance hormones in your body, which plays a role towards making you a better negotiator or an abstract thinker; while wearing active wear is most likely to encourage you to exercise or work out. It’s precisely why some people consider investing in active wear a good idea.
Similarly, uniforms are a symbol of unity, used to conceal differences. It serves to unite people and enhance relationship satisfaction in tremendous ways: there is a feeling of unity and collectivity set into your being.
That’s how dressing in different ways affects your mood and behavior in different ways.
You can use the concept to your advantage by making your day more exciting or fun with the choice of your outfits.
We need to familiarise ourselves with the enclothed cognition phenomenon and be mindful of incorporating it to shape your psychological experience or performance everyday, according to what the situation or event (job interview, exam, night out, etc) asks for. Mix and match or experiment with your outfits and make the world your runway.
Dressing a certain way will not only help you embody a self-expression or a state of mind you seek, but it will also shape other people’s perception of you, which in turn will affect your mental well being. So, putting thought into dressing a certain way becomes very essential.