Have you ever watched a child play dress-up?
A high-spirited little girl becomes an elegant princess when she’s wearing a fancy dress and rhinestone tiara. With a cowboy hat and some boots a shy little boy is transformed into a tough-talking sheriff. What happens to kids when they play dress-up?
They’re empowered by a simple change of clothing, and truth be told—adults are too.
We all have a favorite shirt, jacket, dress, suit, hat, or even a pair of sunglasses that just makes us feel gooood. When we wear them and look at ourselves in the mirror, we can’t help but smile back at our own reflection. What is that about? Are we being shallow? Can what we wear really make that much of a difference?
According to The Journal of Experimental Psychology, yes it can. A study conducted by two professors at Northwestern University Kellogg’s School of Management in Chicago proved this theory utilizing two test groups. Each participant in the group was given a white coat to wear. One group was told the coat belonged to a doctor. The other group was told the coat belonged to a painter. Each group was given the same series of activities and listening exercises, and in each case, the group wearing what they believed was a doctor’s coat showed a sharp increase in their ability to pay attention and retain information, while the other group showed no change whatsoever. The study concluded that it’s not so much about the clothes we wear, as what we associate with them. That’s why we hang on to dad’s old moth-eaten sweater, and why we choose the little black dress and high heels for our high school reunion. They give us a sense of comfort and confidence.
According to Dr. Samantha Boardman, psychiatrist and attending physician at New York Presbyterian Hospital, the decisions on what we wear are not superficial. “When you wear something that makes you feel great, the effects may be subtle — the way you tilt your head, your facial expressions and your body language — but they matter. It sends a message that you care about yourself.”
When we stop caring about how we look, we send the opposite message. Maybe you’ve been going through a tough time, put on a few pounds, or perhaps you work in a place where few people see you, so you tell yourself that how you dress doesn’t really matter. But you know in your heart, it does.
When we look good, we feel good.
When we feel good, we’re more confident.
When we’re confident, we feel empowered.
When we’re empowered, we can do just about anything.
So don’t be afraid to express yourself through what you wear. Wear something that makes you feel good. Remember—you’re awesome, so why not look the part?