The Science of Dressing Well


By Hannah Sundermeyer

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Here at the University of Kansas, some days it feels like every day is pajama day. When you look around the Budig 110 lecture hall, you see a sea of sweatpants, ball caps, and oversize t-shirts. Nearly everyone appears to have just rolled out of bed, with the facial expressions to prove it.

But the guy and the girl dressed in jeans, sweaters and scarves are obviously out of place.

As I’ve seen re-tweeted countless times on Twitter, “College is really cool because you can wear the same shirt two days in a row if you have to. Your Monday, Wednesday, Friday people don’t know about your Tuesday/Thursday life.”

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While the allure to dressing down grows even stronger as we enter the painfully cold winter months, science and experts, including those who dress up, can tell you the benefits.

Harrison Rosenthal, a junior from Leawood, Kan., would describe his own sense of style as “professional student,” and says he likes to have his pants pressed, his shirt starched, and his shoes shined.

“I think that in college especially, it’s important to dress up a little bit to show that respect for your instructors and the work they put into the course,” Rosenthal said. “Dressing nicely is not a sine qua non of dressing expensively. You can look nice without spending a fortune on clothing. It’s important to be mindful of how you present yourself. Because that will ultimately play into your reputation, what people think of you, and that mindfulness is an important factor. “

But Levi’s said it best in their Winter 2015 collection campaign with the mantra; Do well, live well, and dress really well.

“You can express yourself and show people who you are without saying anything. I think that’s more important than the actual way you look. You can show what kind of person you are with what you wear,” says Christian Hardy, a sophomore from Derby, Kansas.

I personally swear by the motto, “Dress well, test well.” But is there any science behind this? According to a study conducted by Northwestern researchers Adam Galinsky and Hajo Adam in 2011, there just might be.

Galinsky told the Washington Post in 2012: “Findings show that it’s not just the experience of wearing the clothes, but the symbolic meaning they hold for people. It’s the simultaneous combination of the posture or the clothes and the symbolic meaning of them that matters.”

Participants were involved in a “Stroop test” involving the identification of the color of words written. For example—the word orange written in purple ink. One group performed the task in professional, white lab jackets and made half as many errors as the constant variable group without them.

While donning a lab coat may not be the best approach for your next exam, ditch the yoga pants and your GPA just might thank you.

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Don’t know where to start? Style on the Hill has you covered:

·      Invest in a great oversized sweater. You can throw this on over a pair of leggings and stay warm and snuggly for your trek through campus.
·      A swipe of a brightly colored lipstick can upgrade a basic tee and jeans from casual to chic.
·      You can even dress up a basic pair of jogger sweats with a leather jacket and a patterned headband to hide even your worst case of bedhead.
·      Busy week? Take an hour on Sunday to iron a few button up shirts so that you don’t have to worry about it later. These can be paired with straight-legged khakis or jeans. If you’re looking for something even more casual, opt for a flannel.
·      Channel your inner Chuck Bass with a peacoat. When shopping, look for more neutral colors such as black, grey, and navy.
·      Check out for unique and inexpensive pieces including a wide variety of tees, sweaters, shoes and outerwear.