7 Surprising Ways Clothing Affects Your Life (Not Just Your Look)

7 Surprising Ways the Clothing You Wear Can Affect Your Emotional State

Feeling down? Feeling elated? What are you wearing? Depending on your answer, you may find that your emotional state changes based on these very choices.

We’re all born naked, but that doesn’t dismiss the powerful effect clothing has on how we perceive ourselves, others, and the world around us. In fact, what we wear has become almost like a set of armour that sends messages to our subconscious, and to the individuals we interact with (or avoid) everyday. Not only do outfits seem to correlate with a current emotional state, but they can alter it, as well. 

How Clothing Affects Moods

1. Lifts Your Mood

Dressing up may take extra effort, but the impact it can have on elevating your emotional state is arguably worth the process. A small study conducted on 100 women demonstrated the positive impact wearing a favorite dress, jewelry, and jeans had on participants versus those who put little to no effort into their morning routines. Because we often dress like how we are feeling, as opposed to dressing to change our mood, the first thing we reach for could signal one’s true emotional state. Next time you’re feeling down, need a boost of confidence, or or want to reinforce your positive vibes, choose something from your closet that will lift your mood.

2. May Indicate Depression

Conversely, they way we dress may also indicate depression. The same small study of 100 women also indicated that those who chose baggy tops and jeans may be in a depressed or sad state of mind. Jeans were a big factor in both happy and depressed moods, but how the wearer styled them seemed to say more overall. “In the study, 51 percent of women would wear jeans when they felt sad or depressed, and only 33 percent of women would wear jeans when they felt happy or positive,” though these findings did not take into account the typical dressing styles and habits of more than just the participants. What this indicates is that a woman who normally reaches for figure flattering garments who slowly or abruptly switches over to baggy items may be suffering from an altered emotional state.

3. Improves Deal Making

Although this study used men as participants, we think the same principles would apply to women in negotiations, and could improve the outcome of such. For this particular experiment, some guys were asked to wear suits, which they deemed “upper-class,” while other guys were asked to wear sweatpants, deemed “lower-class,” before negotiating with a subject who was not told anything about the clothing. The upper-class clothing induced dominance in the wearer, garnering a more favorable outcome, and elicited an acquiescent response from the other unknowing subject participating in the negotiations. Bottom line: it may pay to dress a little sharper before asking for a raise, buying a car, or doing anything else that involves making a deal.

4. Boosts Physical Performance

Choosing the color red before working out could potentially boost your performance during your sweat session. The participants who exercised in red were shown to have higher heart rates and lift heavier weights than those wearing blue, although they reported similar rates of exertion. Athletes wearing red in the 2004 Olympics won more games, though this study did not support those results. Participants in red did not win more often than those wearing blue. Ultimately, it’s up to you to determine how well this color improves your physical performance. Need some motivation to actually workout? Researchers believe that wearing your workout gear first thing in the morning could motivate you to hit the gym.

5. Help You Trim Down

Fitness expert Valerie Orsoni told Reader’s Digest that French women are rumored to wear a ribbon around their waist before going out to dinner. This keeps them conscious of the midsection, and less likely to overeat. Although we’re not necessarily condoning this, and you should always consult a professional before adopting extreme weight loss measures, the theory is that the act of binding your body (wearing tight pants, tightening your belt, or tying a ribbon around your waist) will help you eat less and lose more.

6. Increase Deception

Thinking about buying those knock-off sunglasses or fake designer handbag? Beyond the obvious reasons, one study would urge you to rethink those choices based on the emotional state it may elicit. According to researchers, people who buy counterfeit designer duds are more likely to behave dishonestly and believe that others are being deceptive. Some participants wore fake sunglasses, while others wore authentic sunglasses. The individuals wearing fakes cheated across multiple tasks, and were more suspicious of others.

7. Heighten Brain Function

According to one study, participants wearing a white lab coat designed for a doctor, versus a white smock designed for a painter, had significantly improved cognitive function and selective attention when asked to perform on tests. This further emphasizes the notion that one should dress for the part (or for the job they want). When you have your exterior persona in check, it can significantly improve your emotional state. In other words, bust out that pantsuit, girl, and go make some waves!

Do any of these theories hold true for you? Share your thoughts on clothing and emotional state with us on the EcoSalon Facebook page!

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Jamie Duncan

After starting out in public relations, Jamie finished college with a BFA in interior design. This combination of writing and design knowledge, coupled with her fashion and lifestyle expertise, has paved the way for an exciting freelance career. Her work has been published in magazines and online, plus she’s managed PR campaigns, and is no stranger to copywriting. Jamie’s a vegetarian and cruelty-free product fanatic. Connect with her on Twitter and check out her website to learn more.