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Thursday, April 5, 2012

You Are What You Wear

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All of us have heard the age old adage "You are what you eat." Now according to researchers at Northwestern University you can include "You are what you wear." This new research explains why you stand taller in those Louboutin pumps (other than the height of the heels) or why you feel better carrying that Bottega Veneto bag, as well as why you feel better in the shoes from Saks than the ones from Payless. The researchers at Northwestern say you feel more powerful in expensive clothes and shoes and the higher the price tag the greater the power you associate with it. Wow! Who knew?

"Enclothed cognition" is a term the researchers use to describe the connection between psychology and your clothing.

“Clothes cognition is really about becoming the clothes themselves and having them direct who you are and how you act in the world,” study author Adam Galinsky said. ”When we are putting on a suit, we are not only giving impressions to other people, but we are also giving an impression to ourselves. We feel the rich, silk fabric on our arms; that allows us to take on the characteristics of those clothes.” (Adam will you tell my husband how important it is the next time my credit card bill comes in?)

One part of the research involved having people put on a white lab coat that the researchers labelled "a doctor's coat." Researches then observed the differences in how people acted wearing the "doctor's coat" versus when they were wearing the same coat but heard it described as "an artist's coat" or "a painter's coat."

When they wore the doctor's coat they were more attentive. When they wore the painter's coat you did not get the same results. Galinsky posits that when you put on a coat labeled 'doctor's coat' you also take on the symbolic meaning of being a doctor. A doctor needs to be more attentive and smarter. Artist or painter's coat wearers felt more creative.

The idea for the research came for watching an episode for The Simpsons where a group of children wore gray uniforms and were really quiet. A rainstorm came and washed away the gray resulting in a dramatic behavior change. Galinsky started thinking about how the clothes you wear and the meaning behind them effect behavior.

Galinsky's suggestion to us all? Remember the next time you are choosing clothing and/or getting dressed that “the clothes that you wear seep into the fabric” of your psyche.

What do you think? Are you the same person in clothes from H&M as you are if you've been shopping at Saks? Do you change your personae when you wear designer looks with a high price tag versus the same designer's looks from Target?

Talk about things that make you go hmmm.....

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