Clothes Maketh The Man

by Drew Shiel

There’s an interesting article in the New York Times about how clothes affect us. Apparently, if you wear a doctor’s white coat, you gain heightened attention to detail. But it only works if you know it’s a doctor’s coat; if you’re given the same garment and told it’s a painter’s coat, there’s no effect.

It’s not news that different clothes can set your mood, make you more confident, or the like. But having it make a difference at an apparently cognitive level is very interesting – and it’s even more interesting that it works on the immediate associations of the garment, rather than the recognition of the garment. So suits and business dress might really make people more business-like, more focussed – but only because they know it’s a business suit.

It’s a little peculiar to think that identifying someone’s outfit as not actually a business suit – whether true or not – could affect how well they work while wearing it.