Who said suits don’t have special abilities? The Iron-Man suit isn’t the only suit that can give you a different lens to look out of. When you put on a suit, you feel more powerful. Once it’s on, your whole world changes.
Different outfits are worn for a variety of different occasions. People wear suits to interviews, business meetings, and other formal events. Usually it’s for an event that is important. But why is that? It’s because of what the suit represents. Dressing up in a suit makes you look like a professional. It’s for someone that is successful and has their life together. It’s a symbol of confidence and power.
In a new study by SagePub called The Cognitive Consequences of Formal Clothing, researchers have shown that when you put on a suit, you gain a broader perspective of the world and think about it in a more holistic manner. They came to this conclusion after a series of experiments that tested the processing style of students wearing formal and casual clothing. Someone with an abstract processing style will think broadly and holistically whereas someone with a concrete processing style has a narrow and linear style of thinking. The result was that students who performed the cognitive tests while wearing “clothing you would wear to an interview” demonstrated more abstract thinking than when students were told to wear “clothing you would wear to class”.
The findings demonstrate that the nature of an everyday and ecologically valid experience, the clothing worn, influences cognition broadly, impacting the processing style that changes how objects, people, and events are construed – Michael L.Slepian
So, what can a holistic and broader perspective of the world do for you? If you are receiving critical feedback at work, you might take it too personally and be hard on yourself if your perspective was narrow. With a broader mindset, you will take it as positive feedback that will allow you to improve for the future as opposed to taking it negatively. Even the way you handle your money changes. When you’re wearing your suit, you might refrain from making that splurge when you think about making smarter purchasing decisions for the long run.
It’s all about what your clothing represents to you. There was another similar study that was done on people wearing lab coats called Enclothed Cognition by Hajo Adam. Lab coats are associated with attentiveness and carefulness. By simply wearing a lab coat, or being told that they were wearing a doctor’s coat rather than a painter’s coat, the participants in the study found increased performance when they were tasked with attention related tasks.
So, no matter what occasion, if the suit feels the same to you and still symbolizes a person of power, confidence, and success, it will leave you walking through the world with that new point of view. Even as businesses are becoming more casual, the suit surely is a symbol that is going to stick around.