Dress To Impress! How Your Clothes Influence Thoughts and Feelings

Confidence and Self Esteem

clothes influence thoughts and feelings - hypnotherapy in ely


Dress To Impress! How Your Clothes Influence Thoughts and Feelings – Hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘dress to impress’ where it is suggested that you dress impressively to look good to others and to potentially influence their reaction towards you. Yet could it be that the clothes you wear have more influence over your own thoughts and feelings?

Could it be that your clothes influence thoughts and feelings so that you feel confident and feel good in yourself in ways that certainly could influence how you are perceived by others, as well as boosting your own self-esteem and positive self image.

Even as I write this I’m reminded of power dressing in the 1980s, a fashion style that suggested wearing certain clothes as a form of establishing authority in professional environments. Whilst designer labels were seen as a thing by both sexes at the time, power dressing was the fashion style that was associated with women standing up in environments traditionally dominated by men. And whilst I’m no fashion expert (obviously!), certain clothes and styles of clothes have always been associated with certain values, views and social groups and to either fit in or to stand out from others.

And recently I was reminded of the use of clothes to influence how you feel by a client who told me that wearing certain accessories and clothing styles helped her to feel more confident when public speaking.

Of course, if you subjectively perceive that what you wear affects your thoughts and feelings then it most likely will and that could either be helpful and positive or negative and a hindrance. And, there is evidence to support that what we wear influences how we think, feel and act.


Clothes Influence Thoughts, Feelings and Behaviours

The term “enclothed cognition” was coined to describe the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes (Adam and Galinsky, 2012).  In studies, wearing a lab coat led to reduced errors in a test and to improved performance on a sustained attention task.

Enclothed cognition, therefore, refers to the systematic influence that clothes can have on the wearer’s feelings, thoughts, and behaviours through their symbolic meaning.

A more recent review has evaluated the evidence for enclothed cognition based upon an analyses of available studies (Horton, Adam and Galinsky, 2023). They found support for the core principle that what you wear can influence how you think, feel and act. The physical experience of wearing clothes combined with their symbolic associations influences you as the wearer of those clothes.

Now, of course, you don’t have to wear a lab coat if you want to increase your levels of attention on a task. Most of us have certain things we wear and call upon when we want to look good or feel good in ourselves. You may have certain clothes that make you feel more confident and capable of performing well. You will likely have those things you wear that mean you are chilling and relaxing at home. And if you play sport you may have your lucky socks or some other clothing that you associate with performing well.

You are already likely to have certain clothes that you associate with certain ways of thinking, feeling and behaving, Up to now you may have thought that these perceptions were just little things you do or that they made no real difference and that you just likes to do these things. Yet, this research suggests that those perceptions are certainly a psychological thing that impacts upon you. And you can also be sure to draw up this by wearing certain things to deliberately influence how you want to be thinking and feeling in a situation.


To your health and happiness, 

Dan Regan

Award Winning Anxiety Hypnotherapist in Ely & Newmarket


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Adam, H., & Galinsky, A. D. (2012). Enclothed cognition. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48(4), 918–925. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2012.02.008

Horton Jr, C.B., Adam, H. and Galinsky, A.D., 2023. Evaluating the Evidence for Enclothed Cognition: Z-Curve and Meta-Analyses. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, p.01461672231182478.



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