Let’s talk about clothes and enclothed cognition

“Enclothed cognition”? That’s what psychologists call the premise that the clothes you wear directly affect how you think and what you do.

It turns out the study was paid for by Lululemon, which has managed a lot of free publicity because of some see-through pants, and because the CEO managed to tell the truth – that their clothes are not for the overweight:

Psychology of Lululemon: How Fashion Affects Fitness
Does expensive athletic wear actually incline us to work out? “Enclothed cognition” proposes that the clothes you wear directly affect how we think and what we do.

“It’s all about the symbolic meaning that you associate with a particular item of clothing,” Adam said. And he thinks the study’s results can be applied to many more fields, including activewear and fitness. “I think it would make sense that when you wear athletic clothing, you become more active and more likely to go to the gym and work out.”

Especially if you have spent $300+ on an outfit you could get for under $40 at Old Navy.

Let’s compare:
Lululemon:
En Route Jacket $148.00
Hustle & Bustle Tank $58.00
Astro Pant (Tall) *Full-On Luon $98.00
Total: $304.00

Old Navy:
Micro-Performance Fleece Jacket $10.00
Active by Old Navy Compression Tank $14.00
Fold-Over Yoga Pants $14.00
Total: $38.00

Yes, the prices above are as of today, and you can get almost ten Old Navy outfits for the price of one Lululemon.

“But Fausta,” you’ll say, “Lululemon’s yoga and running gear are designed for sweaty workouts (Full-On Luon fabric is sweat wicking, four-way stretch and breathable)! Old Navy’s isn’t!”

Ask yourself how many times a week/month/year you run outdoors long enough to break a sweat: that’s when you need the high-performance materials. If you work out indoors, you’ll do fine with Old Navy. At the end of your sweaty workout, you’re done, and you’ll be showering and changing anyway.

Unless, of course, you have to impress yourself and everybody else with the brand name (be it Lululemon, Patagonia, Athleta, or whatever), in which case, by all means, do. It all has to do with enclothed cognition.

However, keep one thing in mind: I don’t weigh myself, and I keep to a low-carb diet because I must, so the way I keep track of my weight is by seeing whether my non-stretchy clothes are getting tight. Once you get into the habit of wearing stretchy clothes all day, clothes that “give” (particularly around the waist), you lose track of that.

Which brings me to the question:
If you spend $300 on an outfit, would you be wearing it all day, and skipping the gym because breaking a sweat would mean changing into something less stylish? Or do you really get the activewear for working out?

Only you can answer that.

Related: Althouse goes Heisenberg and asks,

What I think would be fun to talk about is articles of clothing that you have used to alter your perceptions. And have you rejected items of clothing that you thought would skew your perceptions in ways you didn’t like? Remember to exclude the idea of how others perceive you and how their response to you will affect you. It’s just you. You and that item of clothing.

For a snowy day,

Blogging on Latin American politics shall resume later.


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6 Responses to “Let’s talk about clothes and enclothed cognition”

  1. jlh Says:

    The man must be right. When I wear my blazer and grey slacks, I feel like a banker. When I wear my old jeans, I feel like a unionized plumber. When I am in the shower, I try hard to ignore what I actually look like.

    I think his “unclothed cognition” needs go be de-frocked.

  2. Fausta Says:

    The emperor’s “unclothed cognition”, JLH?

  3. CGHill Says:

    Hey, it works for me. I do my best writing in my birthday suit.

  4. Fausta Says:

    It’s wash-&-wear, Charles!

  5. Gringo Says:

    I dunno, I purchase clothing which 1)looks good to me and 2)is sold a good price. I purchase $10 jeans and end of season flannel shirts for $5 at Wal-Mart. Also some socks and underwear at Wally World. For the most part, Wal-Mart clothing is not my taste, and I can purchase better looking clothing at similar prices elsewhere at discount clothing stores. Right now I am wearing $8 corduroy pants, a $15 shirt, and a $15 cotton sweater.

    Them as wants to spend a lot of money on clothing, let them.

    When my knees permitted me to run, I wore cheapo gym clothing with sweatpants in season, but did splurge on quality running shoes or hiking boots.

  6. Fausta Says:

    Wal-Mart clothes also tend not to last beyond the first 5 washings.