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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at GCU chapter.

Fashion has a greater impact on the mind than most realize. Imagine these scenarios, a pair of jeans that fits snug destroys your confidence during a first date, or an outfit that is considered underdressed for a work conference leaves you feeling out-of-place. What a person wears has the potential to impact their view of everyday scenarios. Is there a specific hack to approach fashion in a way that positively impacts mental wellbeing? Not exactly. The importance of fashion varies among individuals, but its impact on the mind remains an ongoing topic of discussion for scientists. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology suggests that what a person wears impacts their psychological processes, such as their perceptions of themselves and performance levels, otherwise known as enclothed cognition. 

Enclothed cognition argues that an individual’s physical appearance and specific articles of clothing are associated with ideas reflected through behaviors, attitudes, and actions. The following experiment reaffirms the impact of enclothed cognition, with respect to the perception of a coat. Participants were selected to complete a task while wearing one of the following: regular street clothes, a coat associated as a painter’s coat, or a coat associated as a doctor’s lab coat. The results showed that attention-to-detail and mindfulness to the task stayed the same when participants did not wear a coat or wore a coat associated with a painter and increased for participants who wore a lab coat associated with a doctor. In this scenario, a clothing item associated with intelligence improved individuals’ perception of self through attention-to-detail, mindfulness, and confidence to carry out a task. 

It’s easy to underestimate the impact of clothing on self-perception and performance. According to a science article written by DW Made for minds, clothing has the ability to positively or negatively impact self-perception. Clothing pieces, such as a flattering blouse or a comfortable piece of denim, has the potential to boost confidence, acting as “armor” throughout the day. Clothing pieces such as an uncomfortable uniform or tight-fitting sneakers become severely distasteful to the wearer and are reflected through negative behaviors, attitudes, and actions. When it comes to performance, according to an article from First Seven, what an individual wears symbolically reflects their productivity in a work setting. Clothing alone has the potential to raise an individual’s annual pay by “5%.” In settings where self-perception and performance matters, be intentional with choosing pieces that will make you feel confident and perform well.   

More than a task that you are required to do daily, getting dressed is also a means of reclaiming individuality and non-verbally communicating to those around you. Fashion is one of the most subjective matters of expression; it has never been “one size fits all.” Wear clothing that makes you feel, comfortable, confident, and most importantly, symbolizes how you wish to be perceived. Whether you are meeting your significant other’s parents, have a difficult exam coming up, or are going to interview for your dream job, consider fashion choices that will make you feel and act, as the best version of yourself. 

My name is Kailani Kaaihue. I was born and raised on the Big Island of Hawaii but am currently living in Phoenix, Arizona. I am a senior at Grand Canyon University and am majoring in English with an Emphasis in Professional Writing. I'm an aspiring grant writer and journalist and hope to use this platform to inspire others.