It’s a common adage: “Remember, it’s not what’s on the outside but what’s on the inside that counts.” While that’s certainly true, there’s something to be said about the way we choose to represent who we are on the inside by changing how we appear on the outside.

That isn’t to say that we should go around trying to make judgment calls about who a person is based on what they’re wearing. But it’s interesting to consider how your clothes reflect your personality and then gauge how true it is for your wardrobe.

Colors and Association

Colors have a strong sway over our emotions and memory. A single color or color palette can call a hundred images to mind. Bright red may make us think of romance, passion, and boldness, while earth tones may make us think of embracing nature.

If you choose to wear colors with a particular association, this may be a reflection of your personality. Take the red and earthy associations. Someone who associates red with boldness may be exhibiting a desire to stand out, while the person wearing nature-y colors may be more down-to-earth.

Enclothed Cognition

In 2012, Psychologists Hajo Adam and Adam D. Galinsky performed an experiment in which they asked participants to perform tasks that tested attention while wearing a white coat. Some were told that the coat was a “painter’s coat,” while others were told that it was a “lab coat.” Surprisingly, those who wore the lab coat did better.

The theory this experiment demonstrated is called “enclothed cognition,” the idea that what we wear—as well as how we perceive what we wear—influences the way we think. Someone who regularly chooses more formal attire may value focus and precision more than someone who dresses more casually.

Self-Concept and Statement-Making

Many of us have strong memories of high school, especially as far as clothing goes. Different cliques dressed certain ways: jocks wore jerseys, goths wore black, and artsy kids wore eclectic combinations of different fashions. In this setting, clothing wasn’t just about wearing what you liked; it was about stating that you were a member of a group.

We aren’t in high school anymore, but we still have the tendency to make statements with different clothing choices. For example, think about all the associations we have with hats. A person wearing a baseball cap makes a different statement than someone wearing a Stetson.

What’s on the inside is truly the most important thing. But if you’re looking to update your wardrobe to better reflect who you are on the inside, knowing how your clothes reflect your personality can help. That way, you can be just as beautiful on the outside as you are inside.

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