Using Enclothed Cognition
Updated: Apr 9
After doing a lot of reading about Enclothed Cognition, I’ve been trying to figure out how to work it out in real life.
If you’ve never heard of it, Enclothed Cognition is the term that researchers coined to describe the influence that the clothes we wear can have over the way we think, feel, and act. How this works is the meaning we attach to the clothes we have on enables us to embody, or take on, the characteristics that we’ve given to the clothes.
If you want to read more on the actual studies that were done, you can look here. A google search will give you lots of options to read.
Since enclothed cognition has been observed and measured by scientists, then couldn’t the average person use their clothes to subtly change and/or enhance how they are feeling, thinking, and performing? The answer should be a very big yes!
So, with that in mind, I’ve changed the way I approach getting dressed, and you can too. I’m still figuring out how to do this, but I’ll walk you through where I am with it right now.
Let’s just say it’s morning, and you need to get dressed. How do you pick out what you’re going to wear? You may think, what’s going on today? What do I need to dress for? In the past, that’s probably where it would stop for me. I’d rummage around and just pick something out.
Now, I still ask those questions, but I’m also thinking, how would I like to feel today? What clothes would help me get there? My photos are from when I had a doctor’s appointment and I was in need of some confidence and courage. What clothes would you associate with that? Hmmmm….
Here’s where it gets fun: picking up items and asking, what do I associate with this?
Here’s what I came up with on this day:
Smart and professional (blazer)
No nonsense (turtleneck), channeling Steve Jobs here (ha!)
Strong and sassy (leopard belt)
Classy and professional (loafers)
Bold (hefty bracelet)
Casual (jeans) it’s just my lifestyle, but I like how it tempers the “feel” of the whole look
Youthful and girl next door (hoop earrings) again, just tempering the overall feel
According to Enclothed Cognition, when we wear the things that we've given symbolic meaning to, something powerful takes place in our minds that enables us to actually take on these characteristics. Life doesn’t occur in a lab, so we can’t measure what occurs, but I can say that it certainly does make a difference. I felt great during my appointment and in the moments leading up to it. I was very satisfied in the way I represented myself; not only by the way I looked but also in the way I conducted myself.
It's a relatively new thing to take into conscious consideration the way I feel when I wear a particular item other than, "I feel good", or "I feel bad". Nowadays, I'm feeling more confident not just because I think I look good, but because in a subtle and real way I'm feeling the way I think my clothes look: smart, professional, no nonsense, strong, sassy, bold, etc... This has been a real game changer for me, and I'm not going back to the way I used to approach getting dressed. It would be like switching to decaf in the morning. It's just not going to happen!
Not everything we wear is going to have a symbolic significance to us. When I wear a white tee shirt, will it hold some deeper meaning for me? Maybe, maybe not, but most of us find a white tee shirt very useful to own and wear. What’s been so fun for me is actually making the conscious discovery of what I think about a piece of clothing or an accessory.
Maybe that’s why I bought it in the first place.