How clothes affect your career – fashion psychologists offer solutions to make your clothes work for you


June 15, 2022, 22:08 | Business

If you dress like an intern, you will be perceived as an intern by others and even yourself.

How clothes affect career growth — fashion psychologists offer solutions to make your clothes work for you

Donald Trump's golden rule 'dress for the job you want, not the job you have' is probably one of those statements where the ex-president of the USA really knows what he is talking about, informs Ukr.Media.

About how the right outfit can affect our mood, well-being and confidence in itself, a lot of research has been carried out. One of the last, however, gives a warning: the assessment of your image should come, first of all, from you. A good outfit can be considered a good outfit if you really feel good in it.

“Everyone is different, and everyone's measure of success is also different,” comments Caroline Mayer, professor of fashion psychology at the London College of Fashion.

So it may well happen that a well-tailored expensive outfit will simply start to bind you, and there will be no question of any self-confidence.

Moreover, another factor can work for or against you here – the situation. For example, a three-piece suit, a kind of symbol of success for a business person, may well help you feel more confident if you have a business presentation in front of professionals above you in position. Meanwhile, wear this outfit to a tech startup team meeting in some loft (where everyone around is wearing hoodies and jeans) and embarrassment is guaranteed.


In psychology, this effect is called “enclothed cognition''. We have not yet translated this term, but its essence is that our abilities (cognition) directly depend on what we are clothed in (enclothed). Professor of management and administration Adam Galinsky from the Columbia Business School claims that in order for the effect of a certain image to have its positive effect, a person needs to give his clothes some symbolic meaning.

Professor Galinsky and colleagues first tested this hypothesis in 2012. The experiment consisted of the following: two groups of students were given the same tests to test their intellectual abilities. One of them was given lab coats by the scientists, while the other was simply allowed to solve the problem in his usual clothes. The results showed that the group dressed in robes coped with the tasks much better than the second.

But the experiment did not end there either. Then white coats were issued to both groups. The first company was told that their clothes belonged to scientists, while the second company was told that their robes belonged to artists. And again, the results showed that students in "scientists" robes completed the test faster and better.

The purpose of the experiment, concluded Professor Galinski, was to show that clothing really affects how we think and how we function in society — but only on the condition that we correctly interpret its symbolic meaning. In the end, students subconsciously believed that a scientist would do better than an artist on an intelligence test. Properly selected clothes in this case simply helped to fix this pattern.

Transferring the tracing paper of the Galinsky experiment to our eternal question “what to wear?'', we get the following: it doesn't matter how fashionable and expensive your outfit is, the main thing is the inner feeling that your bow really suits you in that situation. in which you found yourself at a specific moment.

How to apply this to yourself? Today, there are at least nine steps on this path:

Check with yourself

“In the morning, before you open your closet, think about what you have to do today,” suggests Donn Karen, a fashion psychologist at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. What mood are you in? How do you want others to perceive you? If you're feeling tired and apathetic, you might even benefit from a little snuggling. On the other hand, to slightly ease the load of tension before the upcoming working day, you can go a little casual.

“It's about striking a kind of balance between our mood, our clothes and how we want to appear to others,'' Mrs. Karen continues. All of us sometimes have thoughts like “how would you like to take off this suit as soon as possible'', but this can be easily avoided by giving yourself a moment in the morning for introspection.

Think about comfort

And it's not about leaving the house in your favorite stretchy sweater and sweatpants. Think about the fabric – it should be as pleasant to the skin as possible. Think about how your outfit correlates with the environment in which you will find yourself today.

"Feeling comfortable is very important. Because, after all, your goal is to complete the plan for the day, not to constantly think about what you are wearing today, – says Donn Karen.

Pay attention to your favorite colors (provided that they really suit you), styles, brands and build your basic wardrobe on those things that you will definitely wear.

Wear clothes that fit you well

The point is obvious, but still no less important. A perfect suit that doesn't fit your size is no longer a perfect suit. A quality cut and the right size are what will help you feel confident.

Stand out the right way

A little black dress is always a good choice when you go to a cocktail party, but the risk of blending in with the crowd increases many times over. Sometimes you need to stand out – in a good sense of the word. For example, if you are interviewing for a job, it is very important that you are remembered. So don't be afraid to wear a bright thing or an interesting style – of course, provided that you feel confident in this particular color or style.

Here's another experiment for inspiration. Today, scientists have established that people who wear red always feel more confident than others. During one of the tests, for example, one group of people was asked to formulate their impressions of another group. As you can guess, some members of the latter were dressed in red. Meanwhile, the whole point of the experiment was that the first group did not see what clothes the friend was wearing, evaluating only their face and manner of holding themselves. So, people whose image included red things were rated as more confident and attractive.

Don't be afraid to change

Advertising campaigns of all kinds of brands often use phrases like 'timeless classics', 'timeless style', 'always on trend'. But this is not true, – believes Adam Galinsky, – times change, and so do styles. And you have to be able to perceive it correctly. For example, before the sweatshirt was considered the clothes of idlers and burdocks, but now it is a real uniform of fashion freaks and young scientists. So always evaluate each item in your wardrobe in terms of relevance and relevance to the era in which you currently exist.

Dress for the occasion

The feeling of confidence that comes from a certain outfit depends on many variables: your mood, the situation, the norms that prevail in your society, and even the role you play at a particular event. Always draw parallels with a wedding — because there is no universal outfit here. The bride will dress in one, her best friend in another, the groom's mother in a third, and the presenter in the fourth.

"In any situation, whatever you find yourself in, you need to be able to play by the rules. This applies to everything from your behavior to your image. The slightest feeling that you did not fit into the dress code – and the feeling of discomfort is guaranteed to you, – Caroline Mayer is sure.

Don't dress up by age

That's right. In fact, this is not even an attitude of anti-age followers, but of psychologists who advise dressing as "as you feel", and not "as your age requires".

Most likely, you yourself will not feel comfortable in the same outfit in your 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s. But if you still want to wear a mini at 50, do not deny yourself this. If you really like everything about yourself, others will notice it. Take a cue from Brigitte Macron.

Find clothes that work for you

"Clothes should help you feel confident and yourself,” Adam Galinski believes.

So if, for example, a business suit is associated with dishonest people, it will never suit you. will help you feel stronger and, to put it mildly, “higher than others”.

Clothes will work for you only if you correctly match your choice with your personality, mood, personal preferences and so on. Some, for example, can work productively without getting out of bed, with a laptop on their lap and in their favorite pajamas. And some, on the contrary, can also work from home, but before that they will definitely take a shower, put themselves in order, dress strictly and then get down to business. Both have their place – the main thing is to understand what is right for you.

Try to design a uniform for yourself

At least as an experiment. A similar approach helps, for example, Mark Zuckerberg (he wears a gray T-shirt) and Barack Obama (only gray or blue suits). The point of such a practice is that wearing the same clothes will save you from morning dilemmas of “what to wear''. and will free the brain from unnecessary tasks in favor of more important ones.

"I always try to reduce the number of decisions I have to make. I never decide what to have for breakfast or what to wear. “I already have enough worries,” said the ex-president of the USA to Vanity Fair magazine.

Someone will find this strategy quite useful, because having finally created your ideal outfit, you eliminate the possibility of making a mistake. On the other hand, we already foresee "phi" from die-hard fashionistas. Well, in this case, you can at least think of a few basic templates for yourself in advance, in which fashionable variations are completely allowed.


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