"Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society," Mark Twain said.
As it turns out, Twain was right. But not for how you think. Your clothing not only affects how other people view you, it also changes how you view yourself, or more precisely how you view the world, according to a recent study.
Wearing more formal clothing was associated with a greater likelihood of identifying a a course of action as well as an enhanced ability to process advantages, according to the study entitled "the Cognitive Consequences of Formal Clothing." So in a sense, if you want to feel in control or perhaps more circumspect about a new idea or course of action, try donning a suit.
Writing for The Atlantic, Joe Pinsker delves into the subject in relation to entrepreneurship and the workplace more generally. He talked to Abraham Rutchick, a psychology professor at California State University, Northridge, who is one of the study's authors. Steve Jobs may have been an exception, but for most people, says Rutchick, "Putting on formal clothes makes us feel powerful, and that changes the basic way we see the world."
Still not convinced to get that old suit tailored to fit you again? Here are four ways it could help:
1. Take criticism better
"If you get a stinging piece of critical feedback at work, if you think about it with a concrete processing style, it's more likely to negatively impact your self-esteem," says Michael Slepian, another one of the paper's authors and a professor of management at Columbia Business School. If formal clothing will help you beat the blues of seeing your errors and march on to do better, why not try it?
2. Mind your money
Pinsker writes that researches found that abstract processing "might lead one to skip impulsive purchases in favor of smarter, long-term savings behaviors." Abstract reasoning will allow you to think into the future and keep your finances in check for an extended period of time. As a consumer or a business owner, it is important to be sparse and smart about your expenditures.
3. Wear it proudly, wear it often
Context is secondary when it comes to strutting your stuff. Whether its a dull day in the office or your best friend's wedding, a suit will spruce up your self-confidence and make you feel in-charge every time you get gussied up.
4. It's timeless
With the increasing tendency to dress down in a workplace, the importance of the suit may appear to be diminishing. But it didn't get to be one of the most powerful fashion silhouettes for no reason, says Slepian. "I wouldn't expect the suit as a symbol of power to be leaving us anytime soon," he adds.