Clothes Make the (Wo)Man

Clothes Make the (Wo)Man

What we wear definitely influences how others see us, but did you know it also affects your performance? According to a study led by researchers at Columbia University, participants wearing formal clothing scored better on the ability to think abstractly (abstract thinking is critical to long-term planning) versus those who were dressed casually.

This supports a previous study conducted at Northwestern University that showed that people who dressed professionally not only look more professional, subconsciously they feel more professional as well. The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, observed an interesting phenomenon: wear a white coat you believe belongs to a doctor, and you’ll be more focused. Wear a white coat you believe belongs to a painter, and you won’t see that improvement.

The caveat here is that “formal” and “professional” mean different things to different people. To give yourself an edge, wear clothes that make you feel the attributes you need to be successful e.g. focused, effective, powerful, etc. If you’re in a casual environment and you feel better in more formal clothes, compromise by wearing what you would consider less formal clothes so that you’ll fit in but will still feel good at work.

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