Zig Ziglar says the following: “You cannot climb the ladder of success in the costume of failure.” I would say this applies both to the inner man and the outer man.
One of the tricks I’ve used over the years to manage my internal leadership self-image and my depressive bad moods, is simply to go into my office on bad days in my best finery. Yup. Think about maybe one step down from my opera duds. It bloody well changes my mood as well as my appearance.
Well, lo and behold, my personal self-manipulation actually may have some scientific credence.
The Wall Street Journal had an article last week entitled “Why Dressing For Success Leads to Success.” It posits that when we wear nicer clothes we actually achieve more, based on a number of recent academic studies.
The WSJ reports that in 2014 Dr. Michael Kraus showed that clothes with high social status increased your personal efficacy. It seems that “wearing nicer clothes may raise one’s confidence level, affect how others perceive the wearer, and, in some cases, even boost the level of one’s abstract thinking, the type in which leaders and executives engage.” Professor Kraus says his research shows that, particularly in competitive, winner-take-all situations, wearing more formal clothing signals others “about your being successful and real confident in whatever you’re doing.”
But the WSJ evidence is not just about the external effect of your sartorial splendor but also the internal. Results from a case study in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science titled “The Cognitive Consequences of Formal Clothing,” published last year, suggested that people use higher levels of thinking when they dress up. “When some 361 participants were asked to complete tasks, the ones dressed more formally engaged in the kinds of abstract thinking that someone in a position of power, like a senior executive, would deploy.” Subjects were quicker to see the big picture when dressed formally. They seemed to see better the forest as well as the trees.
Michael Slepian of Columbia University (and co-author of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science article) says, “People who wear that kind of clothing feel more powerful. When you feel more powerful, you don’t have to focus on the details.”
Also, note the work of Dr. Adam Galinsky, who says in a New York Times piece entitled ‘Mind Games: Sometimes a White Coat Isn’t Just a White Coat,’ “Clothes invade the body and brain, putting the wearer into a different psychological state.” Galinsky calls this “enclothed cognition.”
Hmm. Maybe that’s why Donald Trump is doing so well in the presidential primaries. He’s always wearing elegant suits and power ties. Perhaps that’s part of his secret to “winning.”
Well, pardon me while I go and throw on my new frock. I have a meeting coming up and, as William Shakespeare says in Hamlet: “The apparel oft proclaims the man.” Thank you, William Shakespeare.