Want to be more focused, productive, positive, influential, and trustworthy? The secret isn’t some fancy new gadget or an exotic cup of coffee. It can actually be found in almost any residence in the world: clothes.
The power that wardrobe choices can give a person isn’t a new notion, but there is actually science behind this idea. Studies in 2007 by researchers Joy V. Peluchette and Katherine Karl found that different types of clothing had a huge effect on how people felt and acted. For example, subjects felt more “authoritative” and “trustworthy” when wearing formal business attire, but they felt friendlier in business casual clothing. A more recent 2012 study found that students wearing lab coats were able to perform a series of brain teasers more accurately than when they wore normal clothing and said they felt more focused.
Long story short? The idea of “embodied cognition” (the idea that how you look affects how you feel) is real.
So, next time you’re trying to think of a way to change up your work routine (whether that means being more efficient or focused), start out by changing up your wardrobe. If you’re usually a pretty casual guy or gal, swap your jeans for slacks. If you generally feel stiff and uncomfortable in your office attire, see if you can think of ways to loosen up a little bit (do you really need to wear that three-piece suit?). Even if you work from home, you can harness the power of your clothes by wearing something that makes you feel like you’re in a more professional setting—like a button-down instead of your usual t-shirt or simply a pair of shoes.
Obviously, clothing can’t alter everything in a split second, but it can be a small change that helps lead to a huge difference.