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We are what we WEAR

Updated: May 30, 2019

Clothing has a significant effect on self-esteem and confidence.

What’s the secret to being confident? Some people believe it's having a positive mental attitude, while others claim it's being wealthy.

But according to Professor Karen Pine from the University of Hertfordshire, the answer may in fact lie in what we are wearing. Specific clothing - including even superhero T-shirts - can make people more confident in all sorts of situations.

The research is outlined in her new book Mind What You Wear.

She claims clothing affects a person’s mental processes and perceptions. And ultimately, what you wear could discern how confident you feel about yourself.

"We know our clothes affect other people's impressions of us. Now research shows what we wear affects us too. Putting on different clothes creates different thoughts and mental processes.

"We should be more aware of this, to understand how changing our clothes can change our mood and our thoughts."

In the study, she gathered a group of students and asked some to wear a superman T-shirt. She wanted to know if heroic clothing would change how students thought. Surprisingly, she found that not only did it make them more confident, but it also made them actually think they were physically stronger. When wearing a Superman T-shirt the students rated themselves as more likeable and superior to other students. When asked to estimate how much they could physically lift, those in a Superman T-shirt thought they were stronger than students in a plain T-shirt, or in their own clothing. It wasn’t just superhero clothing that affected a person’s state of mind, though. In another test, women were asked to do a maths test in a swimsuit or wearing a sweater, with the latter group performing better. Wearing a white coat, meanwhile, was found to improve a person’s mental agility. And in the book she claims that when women are stressed, they neglect 90 per cent of their wardrobe, choosing to dress up only to feel confident. In addition, she sustains there is a way to feel happier and more confident with the right clothes, explaining not only that we are what we wear, but that we become what we wear.

Our clothing is a reflection of what we are thinking and what we are feeling.

Clothing is an extension of who we are. Much like a turtle with its shell, we tell the world the who, the what, the where, and the when of our lives by what we wear on our backs. When we shop for and wear clothing that reflects our best self, we must consider, consciously or unconsciously, our age, size, culture, and lifestyle. We either work with these aspects of ourselves or fight against them.

Everyday we spend time planning what to wear, and even judging what others wear in this fast paced twenty first century, in which we can only wish to keep up with the constant yet somewhat bombarding sea of trends that engulf us on a day to day basis. As a fashion designer, sometimes it seems as though there is no phrase that speaks more truth than "we are what we wear." It's impossible to walk down the street without judging or being judged for what we wear. We are often defined by our appearances, in a world where first impressions count.

To an extent it is beyond true that we really are what we wear. The smallest of choices within the grand scheme of life somehow dictate what others think of us.

It is certain that clothes give us more confidence, so much confidence, in fact, we find ourselves performing better when wearing them. When you dress to impress, it not only has an effect on the people around you who observe you, but also on yourself. When you feel more confident, your behavior improves. Whether it's a lab coat or a pair of glasses, certain clothes prepare you to be more attentive or more careful, changing your behavior, and even changing the way you think. Clothes have powers...over our mind.

We are what we wear ... Who are you?

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