Enclothed Cognition: Clothes Have Power!

Do you want to be stylish ? You already are! What matters is whether you are giving out the right messages or not and are being perceived well especially by your target audience. Not feeling good about yourself ? Or have confidence issues? Not able to achieve your goals? Well, you surely need some introspection. The reasons for all of this could be related to the way you dress and behave: Your “style”.

Kalyani Kamble

We begin  with an exciting 5-series blog posts by our guest blogger, Kalyani Kamble, India’s leading Life Coach, Image Consultant and Neuro Linguistic Programmer.

This week,  let’s delve deeper into Style and  Image. Kalyani’s guidance will help you revamp and redefine yourself completely, giving you a new sense of confidence and style. It will help you develop a powerful image that gets you to your goals and creates a strong individualistic brand.

In this series, Kalyani will write about:

  • How to find an authentic self, goals and values and why it is important to have this strong sense of identity: Loving your body, Body Image and Dressing as per your body shape
  • Flattering Colours/ Colour Psychology / easy tips to color combine clothes and accessories
  • Developing a personal style
  • Detoxing your wardrobe
  • Smart shopping on a budget

Enclothed Cognition: Clothes Have Power!

Cognitive psychologists Hajo Adam and Adam Galinksy from Northwestern University have been examining the psychological and performance-related effects that wearing specific articles of clothing have on the person wearing them. They coined the term Enclothed Cognition, for this phenomenon.

Enclothed Cognition captures the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes. It is part of a larger field of research that examines how humans think with both their brains and their bodies, an area of study known as embodied cognition.

Embodied cognition experts have discovered that our thought processes are based on physical experiences that set off associated abstract concepts, including those generated by the clothing we wear. Clothing can enhance our psychological states, and it can improve our performance on tasks. Let’s get a closer look at how and why the functions of clothing extend beyond covering and protecting our bodies, as well as ways people might use the findings to benefit their experiences in daily life.

Mind Games: Sometimes a White Coat Isn’t Just a White Coat.
Watch this light-hearted video to see how we perceive clothes and accessories on an everyday basis

Putting On Your Power 

So, how can we use the Enclothed Cognition findings to our benefit?

What kind of symbolic meaning does each article of clothing in your closet hold for you? Do your ripped denims remind you of a free spirit teenager ? Do your 4-inch high heels make you think of a sexy model model walking the ramp ? Does your leather bomber jacket make you think of a rebel?

Perhaps you can choose to make the monotonous daily task of getting dressed more fun and work to your advantage. Try mindfully incorporating the findings discovered from the enclothed cognition experiments to intentionally shape your subjective psychological experience and performance each day, or on special days say, when you have a job interview, a date, or have a negotiation with a tough client.

Here’s one way to go about it: Upon waking up in the morning, take a moment to check-in with yourself and ask, What do I want to feel like today? Once you name the intended feeling state or adjective (e.g. authoritative , friendly, fierce, confident, sexy, composed, loving, and so on), you’re halfway there.

Next, ask yourself: Which article (s) of clothing make me feel [fierce, confident, sexy, composed, loving]Which colour (s) make me feel that way?

Once you’ve identified the clothing and accessories  that symbolises the desired psychological state, You may either choose from the symbolic meaning  or for what holds true for you. For example, your own memories, experiences and beliefs may play a huge role in the way you choose your clothing: A lucky dress, colour or ring. Irrespective of what it is, if it makes you feel good and evokes the desired emotion which will lead you to your goals, just go for it!

March on over to your closet (no doubt, you’ll have a new pep to your step) and pull out those pieces. Ladies, don’t stop with just your clothes. Go all out: do your makeup, hair, and adorn yourself with the accessories that accurately match – for you – your desired feeling. Gentlemen, maybe the tie you choose is the key article that will enhance your day? Or, perhaps it’s your comfy khakis ?

“Power is about confidence and it may not necessarily come from a suit. For some, it could be a pair of well-fitted jeans and  a t-shirt and for others it could be a well-draped saree. That’s ok, there are no rules. Get to know yourself more with careful observation and the way others react to you.”

Ask yourself. Did I fulfill my goal today? Your goal could be to present, to impress, to chill out, to have fun or even all of the above! Use your clothes, accessories and body language to your advantage.

Try this, and let me know how your intentional, enclothed cognition experiment evolves. Do you notice any behavioral changes? Or is getting dressed, simply, more fun? Either way looks good!


Adam, H. & Galinsky, A. D. (In Press). Enclothed Cognition. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.
Judith Rasband  : Conselle L.C. president and CEO, and Director of the Conselle Institute of Image Management, Judith is a Certified Image Master (CIM) in the Association of Image Consultants International, one of the first awarded the achievement and one of only eight in the world.

Connect with Kalyani:
Facebook: Image Impetus


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