Do you know that your clothes have superpowers?
How did Clark Kent transform from a mild-mannered reporter into a world-saving superhero? He changed his clothes! Clark Kent became Superman by putting on his cape, which changed how he interacted with the world. Like Superman, your clothes have superpowers too!
We know that our clothes influence how others see us, but did you know that clothing also influences how you see yourself and how you think and perform?
Studies show that the clothes we wear influence our mental and physical performance by changing the way we think! A growing body of research suggests that there is something biological happening when we put on a snazzy outfit and feel like a new person.
In a 2012 paper in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Hajo Adam and Adam Galinsky tested the idea of enclothed cognition—whether our clothes affect our thoughts and performance. In one experiment, physically wearing a lab coat increased performance on a selective attention task compared to not wearing a lab coat. In another experiment, participants were told their lab coat was either a doctor’s coat or a painter’s smock. Can you guess which group performed better? If you guessed the group who thought their lab coats were doctor’s coats, you’re right!!
But, why? The research behind enclothed cognition suggests that it’s not just what we wear, but what we think about what we wear. The participants who wore doctor’s coats felt more competent wearing them, so they performed better.
Think of the last time you swapped your yoga pants for formal wear. Did you notice that your posture improved and your confidence rose? The symbolic meaning of the clothes and the physical experience of wearing them affect how you think and behave.
Clothing helps shape our identity. If you want to change your mood or performance, try changing your clothes and watch your superpowers emerge!