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The Impact of Clothing on Mental Health and Performance

In 2021 we rightly have evolved into a society where we are as conscious of our mental health as we are our physical health. From yoga to meditating to exercising to limiting alcohol intake, today more people than ever are changing their lifestyles in favour of better mental health. 

However, there is one aspect of lifestyle that influences our mental and self esteem as much as any and its importance is often neglected. This is the notion of how we dress ourselves. A common misconception is that clothing is merely a frivolous and materialistic parade of no real importance. However there is numerous scientific evidence to suggest the contrary. 


The Importance of Self Expression and Individualism

Self-expression is a big part of everyday life, whether people do it through artistic means or not. Developing self-expression can lead to a healthy mindset and helps consumers understand their passions and reach personal goals. Self-expression is also one of the key factors of individualism, which contributes in large parts to mental health. 

All fashion consumers express themselves through their clothing, style, and apparel. This is because garments and style inherently showcase personality, culture, lifestyle, creativity, or a multitude of these factors. Particularly, those who have a difficult time expressing themselves with words or who naturally lean toward introversion can benefit from using fashion expression to show their personalities, resulting in a mental health boost. Additionally, what people wear can give them a sense of confidence and self-worth, which can also tie into the impacts of fashion on mental health. 

Dressing for Performance

Alongside being beneficial for mental health through expression of self expression and individualism, clothing is also proven to have a definite impact on our performance levels. For one, people’s impressions and opinions of one another are strongly influenced by clothing. As a rule of thumb, people are more receptive to someone dressed tastefully and appropriately for a given setting or event. People may also develop assumptions of socio-economic status from brands and outfits they see their peers wear. 

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As well as influencing others’ perceptions of you, clothing is also scientifically proven to boost your cognitive abilities. According to a Social Psychological and Personality Science study report, wearing formal and apt clothing aided creative, big-picture thinking in different cerebral tests while those less well-dressed got caught up with inconsequential details.

Moreover, In 2012, researchers from Northwestern University in the US found that wearing specific items of clothing had an effect on the wearer’s psychology and performance. The researchers concluded that clothes have a symbolic meaning. When we wear an item of clothing with a specific meaning, these clothes can influence our psychological state. It’s called “enclothed cognition.” 

Investing in Yourself

While many may claim that clothing is merely an apparatus of day to day convenience, there is no shortage of rebuttals to this school of thought. We wear clothes every day. What this means is what we wear becomes an extension of who we are, thus, this provides an opportunity to express our individualism through our wardrobes. Alongside this, numerous scientific studies have concluded that dressing well can boost your performance through enhancing your confidence and even cognitive ability. Therefore, when you buy clothing, you aren’t just investing in an item for your wardrobe. You are, quite literally, investing in yourself.