It is often said that ‘the first impression is the best impression and the most lasting one’, and ‘always judge a man by his shoes’. Well, these references cannot be discarded as cliché or stereotypical as a lot rides on the psychology of dressing well. ‘You are what you wear’ is the new ‘you are what you eat’ as minor clothing changes can transform your life in unimaginable ways. Your dressing sense is a reflection of your self-image and in most cases serves as a social, financial and emotional marker.
No, we are not talking about dressing to impress. We are not preparing you to be an avid fashionista or helping you be Vogue ready either. Instead, we are talking about the boons that come with dressing well according to your body type and personality. Psychology of dressing broadly deals with two aspects of what they say about you and what they say to you.
What your clothes say about you?
Several psychological surveys prove that most people form prerequisite judgments about a person within seconds of looking at them and put them into boxes based on factors like financial status, confidence level, social life, age, etc. Research based in the UK and Turkey tried to understand how clothing influences the assessments people make about others, for which 300 adult men and women were asked to look at images of a man dressed in two types of suits for about 3 seconds. First of pictures had the model dressed in a made to measure suit and the others included the ones in a high street off the peg suits with only minor differences in external features like color and fabric and no hidden differences in facial expressions. Majority of the study group judged the men in tailor-made suits as more confident, successful, flexible, high earning compared to a high street equivalent. Stop leaning and get your body posture erect to build your positive self image and get confident by wearing steel-boned-corsets. It can help you get a more confident outlook as people form assumptions based on the type of clothing. It’s strange how much dressing can influence people’s mindset right?
The kind of clothes you pick can become very important during crucial events like a job interview, a first date, family party where a positive outcome is at stake. This doesn’t imply that you can go easy on other mundane days because your clothes inform every passerby about your type of employment, ambitions and spending habits. Clothing is not only revealing of personality but also helps you in maintaining a sense of who you are and in placing where you think we want to be. It can further act as a tool to establish your place in society and a powerful weapon against others. Why do you think a ‘boss lady’ is always portrayed in a well-cut blazer? Her power, position, and control are projected through her wardrobe choices.
The first essential thing to understand is that there is no one piece of clothing or one type of attire that makes a person look successful. You have to understand what fits the occasion and place of work and dress accordingly. Simplicity is key, but everything requires some styling and oomph to leave an impact. However, certain timeless classics like LBD (little black dress), blazers and pumps always work appropriately for different body types and ages.White casual dresses make you look neat, disciplined and respectable. The second important thing to learn is that there is no clear demarcation between good and bad clothing. The worst kind is the one that tries to hide, ignore or undo who or where you are, and that signals that you didn’t pay attention to your situation, age or body. If your clothing prohibits or hinders you from performing your job it can be considered poor as it only sends wrong messages to the people perceiving you.
What your clothes say to you and how they make you feel
Your clothes leave a mark on the society around you, yes, but beyond that clothes have a way of talking to ‘you’ individually and act like a mirror to your emotions. Your shopping and spending behaviors emerge from your internal motivations, experience, and culture. The effort that you took to dress up shows self-discipline and a concerned and careful attitude.
To understand this idea better, let us learn about a phenomenon known as enclothed cognition. Enclothed cognition captures the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes. It explains how clothing can enhance your psychological states, and improve your performance in tasks. To examine the same, Northwestern University performed a study where standard white lab coats were distributed to participants, telling some that it was a doctor’s coat and the rest that it was a painter’s robe. All the study subjects were assigned the same task, but the ones with the doctor’s coats we’re more aware and attentive, clearly proving that actions are influenced by clothing.
People often throw around lines “get dressed, you’ll feel better”, “shopping therapy”, without consciously realizing how clothes can cheer one up after a lousy day or failed endeavor and help shift your internal self. Hence, it’s wiser to dress not on how you feel, but how you wish to feel. Empowered? Go-getter, Determined? Sexy? Rich?
Most times mental health and clothing preferences are closely related. If your peers or family members show decreased interest in dressing up or begin to pick out dull colored or boring items as compared to before, it can be a sign of deteriorated mental state and emotional disinterest or apathy. Dressing well stabilizes and improves the quality of happiness, thereby reducing the risk of depression Clothes aren’t merely labels, but are medicine to illness as bright colors, accessories, trying out vivid trends will keep us on our toes, alive and energetic.
Body type and image
There is a notion that not all clothes look good on all body types. This isn’t the case as no item of clothing is made for a particular body frame. You just have to understand the art of choosing the right brand, fit and material and you can wear anything you like irrespective of your weight.
Happy clothes that are well adjusted with your body have a feel-good factor while dull ones that are too loose or too tight can mar your goals. Dressing in clothing too large or too small for your body implies that you see your body different than how others see it or as a reflection of the way it once was. Usually, men and women are more motivated to hit the gym or perform some kind of physical exercise when they are satisfied with the kind of sportswear they have put on. When given clothes that didn’t go with their body, they felt uncomfortable to head out and work out. So picking your gym outfits can be a deciding factor in determining how effective your fitness regime can turn out to be. You could experiment with mix and match combination outfits like mesh top with leggings, crop top with gym pants, hoodies with trousers and customized tracksuits.
Common miscalculation is that women are more fashion focused and concerned about looking good than men. However, men are equally self-conscious and insecure with their dress sense and how they are seen in public. Regardless of being a man or woman clothing has a significant hold on our lives. Also contrary to popular belief men have as many or even more choices as compared to women when it comes to different styles of clothing. Men too can try out different trends and be amazed by how they can achieve their aspirations with such simple means.
Who knew dressing good could have so many benefits? Dressing based judgment that starts in early childhood (where teachers make assumptions about students academic ability by analyzing their clothing), can continue in every walk of our lives. Today most people rely on clothes as socioeconomic indicator throwing away defined discriminations such as caste, color, race, rank, etc. It is very easy to slip into sartorial laziness thinking our sunny and flamboyant personality will do the trick, shunning fashion as a reckless indulgence. But it’s time we kick out this stigma and pay much more attention to what we wear and how we wear it as it is the only evidence or judgment criteria these days. Our clothes speak volumes in just 2 seconds, so let us ensure they speak only great things about us and find our key to success.
Jessica Smith has been writing articles for e- business and e-lance sites for more than 4 years.Her educational background is Masters in English and journalism which gives her a broad platform to write on a variety of topics with an ease and efficiency.She is an independent writer especially enjoys writing on fashion and lifestyle.
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