“You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it”
Ever wondered why lab coats are so important during practicals? Is it to protect us from tampering with our clothes or is it to make us look more professional? Well, they are not just fancy accessories. There's a story, a pretty good one I'd say.
A group of people was divided into two halves and they were each given a white lab coat to wear — the first group was told it was a doctor’s coat, the second that it was a painter’s. The first group performed their tasks more sharply and with higher attention levels, as they unconsciously adopted the qualities typical of a doctor, such as a focused attitude. But there was no noticeable change in the performance of the second group.
The same piece of clothing can have different effects when associated with different traits. Fascinating, isn't it? This process is called Enclothed Cognition and Professor Adam Galinsky of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University describes it as “the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes" (MIT Sloan Management Review, April 2012) We all have our own personal lab coats. We all have things when we put them on, we feel invincible. For some, it is a colour that makes them feel like they are standing out. Perhaps it is a style that makes people feel very professional and put together. Whatever it might be, everyone has their own personal lab coats that they associate with important traits, which have the potential to help them feel like their best selves.
In a Ted Talk, a twenty-year-old med school undergrad, Maria Raveendran talks about her personal favourite lab coats and their role in transforming her life. She talks about her three most favourite lab coats, crazy trousers, round glasses and thick eyebrows. According to Maria, crazy trousers are bold, loud, and flashy. They are confident and one has to be bold when they put them on. This has helped her seize many opportunities.
Further, Maria talks about round glasses and their association with being smart & intellectual.
Lastly, one of my personal favourites as well- thick eyebrows. "Women of colour have always had lots of hair and bushy eyebrows, even before it was cool. They are bold and unruly wild and untamed, all traits that women of colour need to thrive in our society". says Maria Raveendran.
On being interviewed, Priya Solanki (22, Software Engineer and Fashion Blogger), says "So, my lab coat is a basic crop top and comfortable jeans. I not only feel well dressed but I feel confident enough to face anyone with my lab coat, no matter if who it is. Sometimes, if I’m not confident with my outfit I feel undervalued by myself, its not just because of what I’m wearing but I also feel that I communicate better whenever I’m in my lab coat! Being underdressed makes me feel trivial and being overdressed makes me feel shy and uncomfortable. So whenever I balance them out, my voice has conviction and I feel like I can work better."
Fashion can be one of the most personal yet public ways we express ourselves. The way one dresses can represent different aspects of their personality. People often try to express themselves through the clothing and accessories that they wear. The individuals who surround you may be trying to tell you a story with their clothing. The styles that they choose can show some of their ideas, what they believe in, and who they are
The value of a piece of clothing is the meaning behind it. It is not what we wear but why we wear it that matters. We all want to achieve incredible things, but standing in our way is our own doubt. We often feel we cannot do it. So, we will need every single tool we can get to help us achieve our goals. Fashion is just one of them.