We're all suffering from enclothed cognition

What are you talking about? That is a perfectly normal reaction, it’s not a commonly used term but this is something that affects everyone, no-one is spared and it has a huge affect on you in every aspect of your life.

It’s all about how we connect with people, the things that help you find and engage with other people in all aspects of life from social friendships and interactions right through to being in the spotlight for a global presentation. So why are we unaware of this stuff?

Evolution of dress code

A couple of thousand of years of evolution has created a highly sophisticated creature that micro processes and responds automatically in nano seconds with almost infinite capability, we’re no longer conscious of many of the decisions we make.

At the heart of this is a fantastic human trait, we look for elements of ourselves and our believed selves in others. That’s how we select who we’re going to talk to first, because we can see common ground as we want to connect with others, we’re social creatures, it’s through these social channels that we establish trust and that’s the most powerful asset anyone can ever possess.

When do we start trusting someone?

This is very personal, everyone will be different, but we all follow the same pattern when we enter a room of strangers. As you look around the room, you don’t know who the other people are, whether they are or aren’t your kind of people, sharing similar values and outlooks. So how does Trust develop? Where does it come from? How will it grow? Above all what is the thing, the magical key that will open the doors and allow you to connect with other people and grow that relationship to a point of trust?

Downton Abbey characters
First impressions

It’s a fact that first impressions count, especially when meeting someone ‘new’, we can be pretty confident that there will be some of ‘my kind of people’ at any event but how do we recognize them? Basic human instinct kicks in, we use our senses to evaluate the options. We are visual creatures, naturally drawn towards certain colours and shapes.

How you look, what you are wearing - your overall appearance speaks volumes to everyone who meets you. Your dress code creates images in the minds of those who are observing you. They’ll make assumptions about who you are, your interests, ambitions and much, much more based on nothing more than how you look.

Is this right? Is this wrong? It’s innate, it’s a learned reaction passed down from generation to generation, it’s what has enabled us to survive, to be here today, so there’s an immense trust that we all place in visual labels.Personal styles


This goes hand in hand with first impressions. Humans are pre-programmed to stereotype people, it’s how our brains work. We use ‘visual labels’ to search for people with whom we can connect. How we individually categorise people will be heavily influenced by our own experience, Lady Gaga is a great example of a person who really understands this and uses it to reinvent themselves.Lady Gaga leopard print

Creating countless stereotypes, she continues to develop her look....
Lady Gaga classic

We are still looking to establish trust in a world of strangers. You might not have spoken to anybody yet, but your clothes have already said a lot about you to everyone in the room.

It’s a fact, the clothes you wear say lots of things about you, but also to you. Whether you’re male or female, in fact whatever sexual label you identify with, no one is spared. We all face the same insecurities about our choice of clothes. And believe it or not men are more affected by personal dress sense then women..

Personal brandingSelf image and personal branding works in two ways

1) how you see yourself
2) how others see you

The two faces of self image have a huge impact in the way you are perceived, especially in new environments where people have little or nothing by which to connect with you..
There’s two questions that we are asking ourselves and others.

Why would I want to talk to you?
Why would I want to talk to me?

Cultural dress codeTo be trusted you have to be true to yourself.

You can express so many of your personal values through the clothes that you wear. But it’s a tricky situation, there’s many influences at play here and no hard and fast rules…or are there?.
Steve Jobs apple dress codeThere’s no piece of clothing that makes a person look successful
Mark Zuckerberg suitAnd there's no one piece, or style, that makes a person look unsuccessful either.

What is a classic?

The ‘classics’ have multiple functions, they are items of clothing that are appropriate for different ages and body types. They became a classic because that garment works no matter who you are, where you are or what you’re doing.

Make the effort

Anything that looks like you didn’t take the time or make the effort will come across badly. The worst clothing is the kind that tries to ignore or hide where or who you are, the kind that shows you don't pay attention to your body, your age or the situation..
Hagrid dress code

Once again we revert to stereotypes and we say a person is ‘inappropriately’ dressed. That’s your personal opinion based on many outside influences and believe me, no-one sets out to wear that label at any event…ever.

This feels like a long blog post I’m still giving examples of enclothed cognition, the things that we’re processing and micro processing at an incredible pace, but we’re not even conscious of this being an activity.The Crown Princess Margaret

Body language

Your body language is directly connected to your self perception, how you view you. The things that you want to be associated with, the people that you aspire to be like, to work with, train with and more.Colourful fun dress codeAll of these facets of you and your aspirations massively influence your clothing choices. So what you may think is inappropriate, may well be the confidence piece that particular person needs to feel comfortable in that situation, allowing them to express the real them.

This is enclothed cognition

There have been many case studies carried out where people were asked to dress in clothing associated with particular activities. The term refers to studies of the systematic influence that clothes have on a persons psychological processes. Basically, it’s what your clothes are saying to you, not about you. How they make you feel.Surgeons dress codeIt’s best demonstrated with standard white lab coats, these are given to a group of people, telling half that these are surgeon's scrubs, the other half is told these are painter's smocks. Everyone is then asked to perform the same task in two separate rooms and the processes are observed. Those wearing the ‘surgeon’s scrubs’ are predisposed to being more careful and more attentive. The painters are more expressive. All these actions are being influenced by their clothing.Dress code cursor shirt

This is what we do at DressCode

I think it’s clear why certain people connect, where others struggle. The clothes you choose send many complex messages to those around you, and also to you, yourself.

Being human, building trust is a multi faceted process, where many visual aspects come together to establish an external message about you.humanising dress codeIt’s a fact that the best connections are made face to face, we have amazing technology, but even the most hardened social media players attend conferences where they meet and talk with others who share the same passion. How they humanise their dress code is what will connect people. It breaks down barriers, opens many doors and generally makes you more approachable. It’s also the thing that lifts your spirits and makes you feel good inside. It’s incredibly powerful.

Natural dress code

Take a look around you, take a look at yourself – externally and internally. Be true, be honest with yourself and above all humanise your dress code.dress code signature shirtDressCode designs and develops bespoke shirts, blouses and other garments for businesses and individuals, humanising business goals, expressing personal values and much, much more. Talk to us about how you can present your business better.