Win the Day

Fashion Psychology: 5 Ways Your Clothes Affect Your Confidence

by Camryn Rabideau



Have you ever noticed you carry your head a little higher when you’re wearing a great outfit—and that you feel kind of mopey when you’re wearing clothes you don’t like?

It’s no coincidence! A number of studies have proven the profound effects of fashion psychology. Your clothes can play a big role in not only how you feel, but also how you perform at work and interact with other people.

If you need further proof that a quality wardrobe is a worthwhile investment, here are five significant ways clothing can affect your mood and performance.

1. It Can Boost Your Mood

Studies have shown that people tend to dress according to their mood. If you’re feeling sad, you’re more likely to wear unflattering clothes, according to research from University of Hertfordshire. However, experts believe you can actively improve your mood by wearing bright, well-fitting clothing.

This theory—often called “dopamine dressing”—can help you feel happier and more confident, even on glum days.

“When people believe in the symbolic meaning of their clothes, it can affect their cognitive processes, and part of those are your emotions,” Carolyn Mair, a psychologist who teaches college courses on fashion psychology, told The Guardian.

Woman wearing chic work clothing

2. It Can Help You Negotiate

Need to negotiate a raise or an important deal at work? Believe it or not, your clothing can help increase the chances of a favorable outcome.

A study cited in Scientific American found that you’re more likely to obtain a profitable deal if you’re wearing formal clothes than if you’re dressed in sweatpants or other casual attire.

3. It Can Increase Your Focus

There are also certain instances when clothing can help you pay attention. The New York Times explains the phenomenon called enclothed cognition. Essentially, you’re more likely to embody those traits while wearing the garments.

For instance, studies have shown people think physicians are careful, rigorous, and good at paying attention, and as such, they tend to embody these characteristics when wearing a white physician’s coat.

How can you apply this to your own life? Try dressing like someone you admire. When you’re dressed in a similar fashion, you may find yourself taking on their characteristics and trying to live up to that person’s image.

WHBM Woman in Suit

4. It Can Spark Fresh Ideas

Clothing can change the way you think, which can be especially helpful when it comes to solving problems or coming up with new ideas.

“The formality of clothing might not only influence the way others perceive a person, and how people perceive themselves, but could influence decision-making in important ways,” explain a team of psychological scientists, according to the Association for Psychological Science.

In particular, the researchers found when you dress to impress, you can more readily engage in abstract thinking! Cool, right?

5. It Can Make You Feel Powerful

High-quality, well-tailored clothing can help you feel more confident and powerful, allowing you to take on challenges at work and in your personal life. Research has shown wearing formal clothing can actually change the way you view and approach situations, according to The Atlantic.

“Putting on formal clothes makes us feel powerful, and that changes the basic way we see the world,” says study author Abraham Rutchick, a professor of psychology at California State University, Northridge.

It just goes to show that taking a few extra minutes in the morning to put together a great outfit can have far-reaching effects.

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