The psychology of dressing style: How clothes make you happy?

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Need an instant pick me up? Head over to your closet. The way you dress up on an everyday basis can affect your mood and emotions. You may not realize the impact your clothes have on your life, but they do. Clothes can make you happy! Those days when you wake up and put an effort to dressing up, when you do your hair and accessorize your outfit well. There is a certain feeling of inspiration and power. But, on those days when you leave your house in shabby clothes, wrinkled shirt, not looking your best self. You eventually not feel good and you kind of screw up your day in some way or the other. And it’s not just us, science is stating that.

Enclothed Cognition

The term “Enclothed Cognition” refers to the concept that clothes influence the way you feel. The research suggests, that what we wear affects our behavior, confidence, attitudes, moods and how we interact with others. It is used to describe the influence of our clothes on our psychological and mental state of being. You may consider certain clothes in your closet to be powerful, and you feel great in them. Or you may find some clothes to be fun and your mood changes when you adorn them. Defined in the journal of experimental social psychology, the principle of “Enclothed Cognition” depends both on the symbolic meaning and the physical experience of wearing clothes.

Dressing up for success is not just a phrase but a valid concept that you can apply in your life to become more confident, happy and successful.  One also needs to take care that the effort doesn’t come across as inauthentic, your Personal Brand needs to reflect your nature. Before we dive into the benefits of dressing up, let’s discuss another psychological aspect of clothes – appearance-related anxiety.

Are you dressing for stress?

dressing style stress

Anxiety may not directly be caused by what you wear, but your level of confidence in your outfit can speak volumes. Your self-esteem influences your choices, the way you present yourself and how you carry yourself. It all affects your state of mind. Your clothes even can define your stress levels.

Now, we all know that impressions are made at first glance, your presentation to the world can affect your self-image and your relationships. But it can negatively appear in your life if you don’t stick to your unique personality. When there is an extra effort just to fit in, to make an impact, you may be dressing up for stress and here’s how you can change that.


When someone has low self-esteem, they make poor decisions related to their outfits. One may feel a need to dress outlandishly or a certain way that may call for attention. Obsessively following trends to project a certain persona isn’t going to help. This way of dressing can lead to fake connections and shallow emotions. People can experience unhealthy social relationships which eventually lead to resentment and isolation. So, if you are dressing up with low self-esteem, it’s important to be honest with your personal style and work on improving your beliefs to become a better person.

Focus on being the best version of yourself by steadily improving yourself and your thoughts. Your self-image is formed by the beliefs and the thoughts you hold about yourself. Are you being too hard on yourself all the time? Is there something holding you back? Try to dig deep in your mental world and improve your confidence from inside-out while you use clothing to pick you up when you are feeling a bit down.

Careless Couture

Some people find it hard to dress according to the occasion because they don’t like putting an effort. When you walk around life with an attitude of “I don’t care couture” then you not only disappoint yourself but put a negative impact on your relationships. Dressing senselessly creates stress and isolation.

When you disrespect your settings and the people you meet, it’s not a good sign. This type of attitude is unhealthy for your mind and can lead to conflict in your relationships in the long-term.

Being Dressed by Others

Friends and loved ones have the tendency to give advice. At times it’s acceptable, and you even find it useful. Because they have the best interests for us. But, letting them control the way you dress can prove to be harmful.

When someone demands that you should look a certain way, dress a certain way; it can be very detrimental for your confidence and outlook towards life. When people continuously criticize you for your outfits, then it can also lead to stress and depression. Nobody likes to be critically looked at. So, if you are going through a particular situation, take measures to either cut ties from the relationships or take a stand for yourself. Dress with your own choice and for your own happiness.

Benefits of Dressing up

benefits of dressing up

When you move away from dressing up for stress to dressing up with sheer honesty and authenticity embracing your sense of style, likes, and dislikes, you take responsibility for your happiness. Clothes can impact your mood and happiness levels.  Learn the many benefits of dressing up well below.

Power dressing is a thing

Science suggests that when you dress up in a powerful attire, your cognitive abilities can improve. You look great, and you feel confident. You don’t have to put up a suit and tie every day. But ensure that you dress up as per your style and authority. It can help you be in control of the situations and make you appear more charming and confident. Uniform style can help you work better as well. Taking hints from Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, wearing the same thing every day can prove to beneficial. You just need to be aware of what matters to you and how you would like to use clothes for your advantage.

Your clothes make you think better

Your clothes can help you think better and creatively. When you are dressed for the occasion, there is a sense of sharpness and presence of mind. Not only you are confident, your sense of self-empowerment impacts how you think. Professional outfits can increase abstract thinking and give you a broader perspective. Image and Self-care is an important lifestyle factor that can indeed boost your brain performance.

Clothes can make you smarter

Following up on the concept of “Enclothed Cognition” mentioned above. People who dress up in formal outfits like coats or uniforms have improved cognitive ability. They are able to focus better and perform efficiently. Time to revamp the closet a bit?

Dress to impress

Believe it or not but visual judgments are made instantaneously. The idea of first impressions can work in your favor if you really understand the importance of dressing up. We may not even realize that our brain has already made judgments about the person and how they look in milliseconds. We intuitively feel that we can trust them, or we cannot. This is referred to as “thin slicing”.

Thin slicing is your gut talking to you. That intuitive feeling you get whenever you meet someone is the result of a very fast paced “thin slicing” mental processing that your brain performs almost all day, every day.

So, when you choose to present yourself with the utmost care to the world. When you pay attention to details when you take care of everything like your clothes, accessories, fragrance, body language. You set yourself up for a positive thin slicing. Choosing your presentation according to the situation can help you go a long way. Dress formally on formal occasions and go a little carefree on holiday. Whatever you do, do it as per your situation in demand.

Clothes can cheer you up

The colors that you wear especially have a tremendous influence on your mood. Remember the moment you wear your favorite color, you become happy. Wearing outfits in which you have received a dozen compliments in the past also have the power to lift your mood.  Bright colors can instill fun emotions, whereas wearing red can either make you feel powerful or sexy depending on the setting.

Clothes can make you hit the gym

If you are trying to lose weight or hit the gym. Try the strategy of wearing clothes that fit the plan. Having good gym outfits and putting them on will motivate you to go for that workout or hit the road for a run. The sub-conscious symbolic meaning of wearing running shoes first thing in the morning will help you move out of the house and not let excuses take over. One tends to be more active and energetic with gym clothes. Many fitness trainers would advise you to keep your gym outfits planned a night before because they know the impact it has on your psychology.


dress for success

The clothes that you wear and the way that you groom yourself impacts your relationship with your own self and how you interact with others. Your dressing is a message to yourself about your confidence or stress levels and your state of happiness. When you are in a negative state, it definitely affects the clothes that you wear, but if you understand the many benefits of putting a little effort in your outfit, you can use the concept for improving your life.

You can increase your focus, cognitive abilities, you can enhance your mood and look smart and sharp. You can make good first impressions and appear grounded and empowered. Indeed, there is a lot that you can gain by choosing the right colors, the right fit, and right accessories for yourself but don’t go overboard with it. Make sure you are true to your style and personality. Clothes can make you happy when you are authentic. When you present yourself aligned with your goals. When you use the word as a stage to express your ideas and grow as an individual. You choose to create happiness.

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