Recent studies prove that the clothes we wear reflect and influence our psychological states. Many of us know this to a degree, but we never quite learn how to boost self esteem with our style choices. It’s evident that a woman wearing a dress (link to your shop?) and heels probably feels more confident than someone wearing a sweatshirt. But exactly how do our clothes influence our confidence?
Two words can explain this…. “enclothed cognition.”
Enclothed cognition is the belief that clothing not only “enhances our psychological state, but also improves our performance levels” -- boosting our esteem as a result.
Sartorial Influence In Action
Researchers observed a number of subjects as they performed various tests in a study. A third of the subjects took the tests in medical lab coats, while another third wore painter’s coats, and the last group wore no coats at all. The researchers found that the subjects who wore lab coats outperformed all of the other subjects-- proving that the clothes we wear along with the meaning they carry have undeniable effects on us. Just as the lab coats represented intelligence for the test subjects, the garments we wear can evoke feelings of confidence, ease or power. Long story short, what we wear matters and it affects us even on a subconscious level!
So how do we use enclothed cognition to our advantage every morning?
It all starts with self-awareness. Many people live their lives on auto-pilot. They throw on something to wear and fly out the door without reflecting on why they wear the clothes they wear or how those clothes make them feel.
How To Boost Self Esteem With The Right Clothing
Step 1: Assess your wardrobe.
For a week or two, keep a record of the clothing you wear each day. Observe what pieces you’re wearing often versus the pieces that you never wear. Then ponder the following questions:
- What pieces do you notice yourself wearing most often and why?
- What do your favorite pieces have in common? Comfort level? Aesthetic? A particular cut or silhouette? Do they fall in a similar color palette? Are there certain brands that you gravitate towards?
- Is there an item that holds significant meaning for you?
On how they make you feel...
What is your prime motivation for getting dressed in the morning?
- How do you typically feel in your clothes throughout the day? Confident, self-conscious, comfy?
- Can you recall a period in your life where you felt the most confident? Did your style choices reflect that period?
How do you want to feel everyday?
- What (articles of clothing, colors, brands) suit your desired mental state?
Step 2: Amplify your “esteem-boosting” pieces.
This step looks different for everyone. I like to do a closet cleanse at least once or twice a year-- ridding myself of the clothing that I’ve mentally outgrown and no longer love. This makes more room for the pieces I do love and clears space for new items that make me feel most confident and alive! As women we have so many ways to express ourselves; remember that it doesn't have to stop with clothes! If doing your hair and makeup give you an extra boost, then make time for a little more pampering in the morning! You deserve it!
If you find that there’s only a few items you love, replace your wardrobe gradually. Using what you learned from your wardrobe assessment, seek out style inspiration online, on Instagram/Pinterest, in magazines, or in stores. And as you purchase those esteem-boosting items, don’t think you have to spend an arm and a leg. Sometimes thrift shops and consignment stores are a great place to start!
This isn’t to say that your mental health isn’t important. Clothing should never be used as a band-aid and it can’t replace healthy life choices; but as Karen J. Pine stated in Mind What You Wear: The Psychology of Fashion, “ When we put on a piece of clothing we cannot help but adopt some of the characteristics associated with it, even if we are unaware of it.”
What are the main “characteristics” that your clothing embodies? Do you wish to change or improve these characteristics? Comment below and share your thoughts with us!
We can’t wait to read what you discover on your style journey. :)