Fashion As An Armour: Understanding Enclothed Cognition?
© Courtesy of Maison Margiela
What do your clothes say about you?
A term that has been around yet not many are aware of is ‘Enclothed Cognition'. Coined by Hajo Adam and Adam D. Galinsk, the term by definition means: ‘An effect that clothing has upon a person’s mental process and the way they think, feel, and function, in areas like attention, confidence, or abstract thinking’.
Have you ever wondered how wearing a leather jacket just gives you a sense of power? Sliding into your best pair of stilettos adds an extra sway in your walk? Or just how wearing faux fur makes you feel posh? It's all up to our perception. Dressing up every day is like wearing your emotions. If you feel happy, you are likely to pick bright colours and maybe even experiment a bit with your style. But if you are in a sour mood, shades of grey or all black could be your go-to. Clothes can be considered a powerful tool for self-expression. Some may use clothes as a way of evaluating others. This is because you can tell a lot about someone with just the way they dress.
One person’s armour will be different from the other, yet both are always in place to cover whatever is underneath; vulnerabilities, insecurities or buried emotions? To understand this better, I dived into my wardrobe to see which colours are more prominent there and found out that most of my clothes are either in leopard print or in the tones of black, white, or grey. Surprisingly, I don't have a single top that’s in purple, blue, or yellow in colour.
So what does that say about me?
When you think of leopard prints, the first emotion that usually comes to mind is strength, power, or confidence. So does wearing animal prints literally make you roar? No, but it does amplify those feelings when you wear it.
But I am more of an introvert, so maybe our choice of clothing compensates for what’s lacking within. We try to dress to reflect what’s within us without having to put it in words. Clothes are like a second layer of skin and you get the complete freedom to keep the ones that fit or shed the ones that don’t. But the disparity can't be too large. Imagine a person whose baseline aesthetic is tones of neutral, goes on wearing a Carine Roitfeld’s dark smokey eyes x Darth Vader full-out black outfit with leather boots. In the beginning, it all may feel empowering, especially with the emotions out of place but by afternoon, it’ll feel more like a costume you would want to get out of. This is because you can't align with looks that don't work with your in- ner personality. In the end, you will always go back to tones and clothes that reflect the inner you.
Fashion is therapeutic. At least, that’s what I hear from anyone who enjoys shopping. But, in all honesty, don't we all? At some point during the day when you are tired, the first image that comes to your head when you imagine relaxation is the soft feeling of your pj’s and a warm hoodie to snuggle in. Ah! And that feeling alone does wonders to speed up your to-do list for the day so you can head home. Walking by on Oxford street, stores inline on every turn, the world of fashion is literally surrounding us and if the pocket allows, you are ready to surrender.
Enclothed cognition is real. Scrolling through Instagram and TikTok, influencers are
taking over and now everyone now has a say in What's trending. The confusion of embracing your own fashion sense vs staying in loop with what’s current is understated.
So, here are some tips to keep your inner self in check:
Self-awareness: Know who you are, what you want, understand yourself and your fashion likes rather than imitating the famous influencer on screen. Deep dive into your mind and let yourself choose. When feeling sad, a beautiful floral dress in yellow may seem a great pick-me-up but if you would rather choose a comfortable cashmere jumper and stay in - do it!
Solitude: It always helps and could be your best option for self-reflection. Rather than a friends day out for shopping and lunch, maybe go solo! Without the need to rush and be influenced, take your time, try and experiment and find the clothes that are more you.
Don't shy away: We all have parts of ourselves we might not be as comfortable with but that shouldn’t mean you let it overtake your right of wearing whatever you want. It's extremely important that you make yourself comfortable in your own skin.