How Dressing Up Can Affect Your Feelings of Power

Could the secret to feeling more powerful lie within what you’re wearing? According to a recent study, the answer is yes!


“Putting on formal clothes makes us feel powerful, and that changes the basic way we see the world,” says Abraham Rutchick, professor of psychology at California State University at Northridge and one author of The Cognitive Consequences of Formal Clothing. According to The Atlantic, “Rutchick and his coauthors found that wearing clothing that’s more formal than usual makes people think more broadly and holistically, rather than narrowly and about fine-grained details.” In other words, that kick-ass outfit you put on when you want to feel in charge really does have an effect on your emotions.

But what place does this sort of thinking have in a style world that’s currently obsessed with easygoing dressing and normcore? “You could predict the effect could get stronger if formal clothing is only reserved for the most formal of situations,” Michael Slepian, coauthor of the study says. “It takes a long time for symbols and our agreed interpretations of those symbols to change, and I wouldn’t expect the suit as a symbol of power to be leaving us any time soon.”

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