We’ve all heard it before: “It’s not the suit that makes the man. It’s the man who makes the suit.”
Well, according to new research, that tired, old adage is kind of bullshit.
In a study conducted at Columbia University and California State University-Northridge, researchers discovered that the way a person dresses has a large effect on how they think. It turns out that wearing threads considered “more formal” will increase abstract cognitive processing; or in layman’s terms, you’re able to think about the bigger picture as opposed to only considering concrete details.
How were they able to find this out? By taking a group of college-age men and women and asking them to complete tests that analyzed what kind of cognitive processing style took place at that exact moment. Before the test, one group of participants was asked to rank the formality of the clothes they wore; another group was asked to wear whatever they would typically rock to class; and the last group was asked to put on clothes they would wear for a job interview.
Among each bloc, the people donning fancier clothes demonstrated more holistic thinking.
“Formal clothing made people feel more powerful, which in turn made them more likely to adopt high-level, abstract thinking," study co-author Michael Slepian told the Huffington Post. “The suit is a symbol of power […] formal clothing might improve your mood if you feel good in the clothing and think it looks good."
So, guys, next time you’re going into a situation that requires deep, out-of-the-box thinking, throw on a suit. Unless you're someone like Mark Zuckerberg, who does his best thinking in a T-shirt and hoodie.