Most of us were raised to always make sure we have (and wear) clean socks and underwear. As it turns out, there might be more to that advice than simple good hygiene. Recent research suggests that the quality of your clothing can have a direct effect upon your self perception and overall mental health.

What is "Enclothed Cognition?"

Researchers Adam Hajo and Adam Galinsky coined the term "enclothed cognition" to define the impact that our clothing has on our mental health. According to Hajo and Galinsky, clothing can affect not only our behavior and personality, but our moods and confidence as well. Moreover, the researchers assert that the type of clothing we are wearing at the moment can have a direct impact upon the interactions we have with others.

Lab Coats are Powerful

To prove the validity of enclothed cognition, Hajo and Galinsky conducted an experiment in which they determined that workers who wore lab coats were more likely to be attentive to the details required of their job. The reason for this increase in paying attention was that the people in the experiment associated the qualities of carefulness and attentiveness to people who wore lab coats, and those qualities were transferred when the participants wore the coats.

Gain Superhuman Levels of Confidence

Hajo and Galinsky are not the only researchers studying the effects clothing have upon our moods. Karen Pine conducted a study at the University of Hertfordshire in which people were asked to wear Superman t-shirts. The students in her study reported feeling very confident and believed they were able to lift more than the students who wore plain clothing.

Sweaters Boost Test Performance

To further test her theory, Professor Pine divided women into two categories: those wearing swimsuits and those wearing sweaters. Each group was asked to take a math test. The women who wore sweaters reported feeling more confident in the test and they performed better on the exam, too.

Don't Doubt the Suit's Influence

Research conducted by Michael Slepian, Simon Ferber, and Joshua Gold found that men who wore formal jackets and suits experienced increased levels of confidence. Wearing "power clothing" did actually make men feel more powerful. Incredibly, these men also experienced an increase in the hormones associated with displays of dominance. But men wearing suits aren't always thinking about dominance. The researchers discovered that the men were more likely to be negotiate and think in abstract terms when wearing formal clothing.

Dressing up Makes Women Feel Better

While a woman's attachment to clothes and shopping is often the punchline for a joke, this trait shouldn't be dismissed as unimportant. Professor Pine found that women under large amounts of stress will often be neglectful about their clothing choices. Yet, Pine found that women who want to feel confident will use their wardrobe as a tool and will dress up to gain a boost in self-perception.

Understand the Importance of Going Casual

While suits fuel ambition and confidence, employees who wear casual clothing also experienced benefits to their work performance. Researchers determined that workers wearing casual clothing were able to be more open and communicative than those who were wearing formal clothing. In fact, workers in formal suits reported that they found it difficult to relax at all around their coworkers. For businesses that have a casual Friday, employees were able to experience a boost in creativity and productivity on the last day of the work week.

Choose the Right Colors

Not only does the style of clothing affect your mood and interactions with others, but the colors you choose to wear can also reflect and impact your outlook. When you look at colors, you experience a certain neurological effect in the brain and your body releases hormones as a result. For example, when you look at bright colors, your body responds by producing increased levels of dopamine, which in turn improves your mood and improve your attentiveness. Cool colors on the other hand, cause your brain to release oxytocin, which will make you feel calm. Wearing bright pinks, oranges and reds can be a great idea on a day when you need more energy, while wearing soft blues and greens on a day for which you already feel stressed is more fitting.

Underwear Always Matters

Sometimes, it's tempting to believe that it's only necessary to wear fancy underwear when we are going on a date or if we are going to be intimate with someone else. But this notion is not shared by everyone. In France, almost 1/5 of a woman's budget is spent on beautiful underwear, and these lovely underclothes are worn on a daily basis. This simple act can have a dramatic impact upon a woman's self-confidence. The French believe that a woman will feel more confident if she is wearing something beautiful because she believes that she is worth it.

Details Can Make a Difference

While a dramatic change in wardrobe, or even just a new outfit, that will make a positive difference in how you feel, less obvious efforts can have the same effect. A simple haircut, shaved face, and freshly-brushed teeth all have the powerful ability to increase confidence levels in men. Even wearing a high-quality undershirt to prevent body odor or sweat stains (source: Underfit undershirts) can have a positive impact on your bearing.

Gym Clothes Make a Difference in Your Health

Millions are spent each year on expensive exercise equipment and clothing. It might be tempting to believe that money is not well-spent, but according to Hajo and Galinsky, owning and wearing gym clothes can help you make healthier life choices. You are more likely to eat healthy foods and engage in physical activities if you wear gym clothes regularly.

Ultimately, society can be quick to dismiss any serious interest in one's wardrobe. People who take a special interest in what they wear may be labeled shallow. But understanding that what you wear has a powerful affect on your mental health is an important lesson for all of us to remember.

Author's Bio: 

Shae Holland is a copywriter with over 3 years of experience in the field. She believes strongly in maintaining a healthy home environment, and firmly believes that overdressing is the best policy. For more information about how good underwear creates the foundation for good style, visit