More often than not, you’ll see a person at the gym wearing a nice workout shirt, or you’ll go for a jog and see runners wearing fancy running shoes, sunglasses and running attire. Why is that? Why do some people wear fancier attire, while others opt for plainer items? The answers are surprising.

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Wearing certain clothing doesn’t just look good visually, it can actually affect your mentality as well!

Perception is Everything


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Sometimes, the smallest changes can make the biggest differences in your perception and ultimately, your performance. It can also influence how another person views you as well.

For example, if a man is walking down the street wearing jeans and a t-shirt, he will be viewed one way, but if that same man is seen rescuing a cat from a tree while wearing a fireman’s uniform, he will be viewed in a totally different light. The perception of him has changed.

The same philosophy applies to soldiers in the military: seeing them in civilian clothes doesn’t have the same effect as watching them march in unison while in their uniforms. Those watching will often look on with respect and admiration.

While the perception from those observing may change depending on what a person wears, the same philosophy can apply to the person wearing the attire as well.

The Clothes Make the Man?


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Studies indicate a person’s mindset and mental state can change quite a bit, simply based on what they wear. For example, in one study, conducted by Hajo Adam and Adam Galinksy, test subjects were divided into two groups:

  • Group 1 wore a white lab coat

  • Group 2 wore street clothes

Test subjects were then tested on their ability to pay attention and notice subtle details. The participants who wore the white lab coats made fifty percent less errors than those in street clothes.

In the same study but using a different method, three groups of test subjects were analyzed:

  • Group 1 wore a doctor’s coat

  • Group 2 wore a painter’s coat

  • Group 3 simply looked at a doctor’s coat near them

Each group was assigned identical tasks where they looked at pictures, noting the differences and writing them down as quickly as possible.

The researchers found that participants wearing the doctor’s coat found more differences than the other groups. What makes this study interesting is the coats were all identical: One group was told their coat was a doctor’s coat, while the other was told it was a painter’s coat. The mere perception of wearing a particular coat heightened their awareness and attention.  

Looking Good, Feeling Good


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As indicated by these studies, a simple change in attire can affect your mindset dramatically. This can be especially beneficial for those seeking motivation to exercise and get in shape.

By wearing nice fitness attire, you might start to see yourself as an athlete. This change in perception could prompt you to exercise harder than you normally would, and the extra effort may be all that’s needed to reach your fitness goals.

In other words, if you look the part, why not act it?

When Clark Kent goes into the phone booth, he comes out as Superman. Once Clark put on his superhero costume, and was ready to save the world, he both looked the part and felt the part. Clark Kent was mild-mannered, while Superman (his alter-ego) faced all obstacles with the quiet confidence that he could conquer them all.

The right attire can have the same impact on exercise and fitness. By putting on your favorite workout gear, you may be inspired to give it all you have.  

Action Step:

  • Treat yourself to a new exercise outfit. As you wear it, envision yourself at the weight and/or fitness level you wish to attain.

Motivation can come in many forms. For some people, it’s being told they can’t do something. For others, it may their doctor telling them to get in shape. For those lacking motivation, a change in attire may be just what they need to reach their goals.