The Effects of Your Clothing on Your Mental Health

It may seem silly to consider the effects that the clothing you wear has on your mental health. After all, clothing is just clothing, right? But research has shown that the fashions we choose actually have quite a bit of an effect on our mental health. In this article, we’ll go over these effects and explain how you can use them to your advantage!

Enclothed Cognition

“Enclothed cognition” might sound like a complicated and overly scientific phrase, but all it really means is that your clothes have a symbolic meaning. Think about a doctor’s white coat, for example, or a police officer’s uniform. What kinds of characteristics do you associate with these articles of clothing? Because we associate different meanings with different types of clothing, these meanings have the power to affect our mindset and mental state. 

In one study conducted by Northwestern University, it was found that students who wore a lab coat while doing a scientific experiment benefited from improved cognition. We associate lab coats with scientific thinking and intelligence, and according to the aforementioned study, these characteristics positively affect the students’ performance in various areas. Consider the other types of effects you could experience, simply by wearing different types of clothing!

Communication Through Clothing

Whether you realize it or not, the fashions you choose to wear each day communicate a message to yourself and to others. Fashion allows you to express yourself and your personality, display your identity, and even communicate the way you’re feeling on any given day. The clothing you wear reflects the way you see yourself, as well as the way you want others to see you. Fascinatingly, your clothing choices can even have an effect on your cognitive abilities, thanks to the characteristics associated with the specific fashions you’ve chosen to wear!

Dressing the Way You Want to Feel

Oftentimes, the way we dress is closely correlated to the way we feel. For example, when you’re having a rough day, you’re much more likely to pull on some sweatpants and an old t-shirt. But when you’re feeling productive and ready to take on the day ahead, you’re more likely to wear a nicer ensemble or perhaps professional clothing such as a suit or skirt. However, research shows that you should actually dress the way you want to feel, rather than the way you’re currently feeling. This is because dressing in the way you want to feel aids you in embodying your desired state of mind, helping to make it a reality.

Turning a Bad Day Around

Next time you wake up on the wrong side of the bed and feel the urge to stay in your pajamas all day, fight it! Think about what you would wear if you were showing up as the best version of yourself. Put that outfit on and allow it to influence your mindset! You’re likely to find that you feel much more positive and capable. 

Rather than thinking of clothing as just clothing, try to view it as a tool that can positively affect your current mental state. Don’t underestimate the power of fashion–the clothing you wear can affect you positively or negatively, depending on the characteristics associated with the particular articles of clothing you choose on any given day. The choice is up to you!

The Bottom Line

Clothing has more of an effect on mental state than many of us realize, and it’s possible to use this knowledge to your advantage! The best way to do so is to dress in a way that embodies the way you want to feel. Selecting an outfit that you associate with success and professionalism is likely to make you act in a way that will lead to professional success; of course, the opposite is true as well. Wearing sweatpants and t-shirts (or other clothing associated with comfort and laziness) can lead to you feeling more lazy than you would if you had chosen a different outfit. Therefore, choose your outfits wisely, and do your best to select fashions that are associated with the way you wish to feel each day!

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