Legendary costume designer, Edith Head, once said, “You can have whatever you want if you dress for it.”
It sounds too good to be true. And in some ways it is. Dressing like a millionaire won’t put money in your account. Putting on a tutu won’t make you a famous ballerina.
But while a change in clothes won’t magically transform your life, it can transform you in other ways.
Dress Smarter, Act Smarter
In 2012, researchers Hajo Adam and Adam A. Galinsky found that certain clothes could actually affect behavior and performance. To test this, they asked groups of participants to perform attention-related tasks. Some were given lab coats to wear during the test. Others were given painting coats. Others simply wore their everyday clothes.
The results? Participants who donned the lab coats actually performed better than the rest. The mental association of “lab coat= carefulness and attention” meant people were actually more careful. Adam and Galinsky dubbed this phenomenon enclothed cognition. The key, they said, was that the clothing had to have a deeper symbolic meaning: not just any coat would do (not even the painter’s coat).
Find Your Lab Coat
If you have goals in mind, maybe it’s time to start dressing as though you’ve already reached those goals. Starting a new workout routine? Treat yourself to an athletic ensemble that makes you feel good. Doing creative tasks? Wear a painter’s smock. Working on something that requires lots of focus? Put on a pair of nerdy glasses (yes, fake ones are okay if you don’t actually wear glasses). Trying to cook at home more or eat healthily? Throw on an apron. As Adam and Galinsky demonstrated, you don’t need a whole new wardrobe. Just one new piece of clothing can make a difference.
Ask yourself, what are the “costumes” that can help you embody the roles you want to take on in life? Go ahead, find your lab coat.