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First published in Sindhujaa's guest column in Entrepreneur (Asia Pacific) Magazine.


Clothes don't just speak 'about' you to other people, but they speak 'to' you as well. In psychology, this is referred to as 'Enclothed Cognition'.

The Journal of Experimental Psychology (highly respected in the industry) says that the colour, comfort, fit and style of our clothes can directly affect our confidence levels. 96% of people report a change in their emotional state with a change in their style of dressing.

For example, a group of doctors were handed a 'white lab coat' and asked to perform a series of tests. Another group of equally qualified doctors were asked to perform the same tasks without the 'white lab coat'. The group that WORE the lab coat performed flawlessly, while the ones in casual clothes made more mistakes. This was repeated with several large groups of people, and each time, the result was the same!

Simple clothing cues, such as a big smiley face on the t-shirt or sweatshirt, are proven to make one significantly more relaxed and happier. People who changed into workout clothes on waking up, felt more ‘CHARGED UP’ to exercise.

Colours have a major impact on mood:

WHITE - clean emotional state, freshness, purity, focus

YELLOW - Happiness

RED - Excitement, sensuality (overuse may be a sign of seeking external validation)

LIGHT BLUE - serenity, professionalism

DARK BLUE - Consistency, dependability (overuse may also signify depressed moods)

GREEN - Healing, soothing (overuse of certain shades of green may signify envy)

ORANGE - Energy, enthusiasm

PINK - Romance

BROWN - Grounded, reliable (overuse may mean inferiority complex)

BLACK - Power (constant overuse may signify low energy or bad moods)

PURPLE - spirituality, mysticism


Also, happier people were found to care about dressing well, while people in trauma, understandably, were found to under-play their clothing. For example, people under clinical depression were found to incline towards ill-fitting clothes almost all the time. While people diagnosed with anxiety were found to do the opposite - they were obsessed about attire to unhealthy degrees. By switching up their dressing, the same people were able to improve their mental states for the day.

Research indicates that repetitive style of clothing can be an indication of unwillingness to open up to new experiences and new people – an unwillingness to open up to the colours and joys of life! This particularly strikes a chord because head honchos like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg cultivated the trend of similar dressing every day... but the hard pill to swallow is that while these titans were super successful and we have much to learn from them, they also held a lot of mental trauma. Steve Jobs has spoken outrightly about his emotional pain, while Zuckerberg has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. You could raise questions about icons like Tom Ford and Karl Lagerfeld, the suit-men. A simple observation is that while these stars prefer a tuxedo nearly everyday, they indulge in a diverse variety of textures, patterns, cuts and accessories in their suits, so there’s no monotony.

While this isn’t a definitive judgement on dressing and emotional state, evidence and experience make it an undeniable fact that what we wear regularly is linked to our minds. Our clothes intensify our emotional and mental energy. This is also sensed by people we come into contact with. We need to become more aware about how clothes affect our mood, and vice versa - about how our mood affects our dressing!

Final words: while your clothes surely DON'T define you, they can still be a great feel-good factor and a way of self-expression. Make the world your runway!

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