Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Enclothed Cognition - What Your Clothes Say to You

 Are you Listening?

What you wear can inform a passersby of your type of employment, your ambitions, emotions, spending habits and [gender choice].  However, there is more...

Rhonda 1988

If you still consider yourself to be just a "crossdresser" what does the process really represent to you?  I am assuming you are past the teen self-arousal part and seriously go out in what I call "escapes"; dinner, meeting with the like-minded, and the occasional mall shopping expedition. Your goal is to blend in and be seen for your fashion prowess.  

In a Forbes magazine article “What Your Clothes Say About You”: the following applies: 

 A study this year from Northwestern University examined a concept called "enclothed cognition. Researchers define it in their report as "the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer's psychological processes," meaning what your clothes are saying to you, not about you. And how they make you feel. 

Enclothed cognition gives scientific proof to the idea that you should dress not how you feel, but how you want to feel. Which clothes make you feel powerful? Sexy? In control? Wealthy? [Feminine?] 

Thus, the current research suggests a basic principle of enclothed cognition depends on both the symbolic meaning and the physical experience of wearing the clothes.

One of the most difficult actions of my life was not choosing a profession, choosing a partner, or becoming self-employed.  It was to venture out presenting as another gender. This was somewhere around 1982. I had to admit to myself that this feminine persona, not yet named, wanted to be real, seen.  

I had convinced myself that once would be enough – Let’s get this thing over with and grow up; move on. After all, it is just clothing?  What I was missing was not how I want others to see me, but how I think about myself.  

The Forbes article concluded with this:  

"The clothes you choose are sending a message to those around you, but also to you, yourself." 

Are you listening?  


  1. As we were getting ready to rake leaves at our Church.
    Oh my gosh, I look like a man!” she blustered as she headed for her closet.

    After many years of marriage, I came back with a practiced response that I learned before my first anniversary, “Sweetheart, you look beautiful.”

    As she positioned herself in front of the mirror, this time in a jean skirt and scalloped linen top, she breathed a sigh of relief, “There, I at least want the people to know that I am a woman!”

    The hair, the makeup, clothes, lingerie, voice lessons, and of course, shoes are all gestures to the world that we are women. Just like the jean skirt and scalloped top that was nowhere near as practical for clearing brush that morning, they served a vital purpose for my wife; they signaled the world that she was a woman and validated her identity. It brought her appearance more in line with who she felt she was.

    Just like the cowboy who wears his hat, jeans and boots in the airport, he is saying to the world, "These clothes reflect who I am, a culture that I belong to, a philosophy that I adhere too, and a vocation that I perform."

    The banker, the rocker, and the professor --- they all send a message with their clothes.
    That is the reason we do this --- we want people to know who we are. That deep down, under the five o'clock shadow and receding hairline, we all have to some varying extent the hearts and souls of feminine beings.

    That’s why we so often ask about passing, presenting or how do I look? It is the reason why in the transgender community, we take more pictures than most tourists. Ever notice that you are the only person at the family reunion that knows exactly how to work the self-timer on the camera! We want acknowledgement, we are sending radio waves out into the Universe and listening, searching, longing to know if we are being heard.

    With that in mind, instead of asking “Do I pass?”

    Let’s try asking, "Did you get my message?"

    "Yes, Ma'am."

    1. What an absolutely wonderful comment, Paul! You hit the nail on the head. We want affirmation. How we dress is how we see ourselves. For me, I am a modest demure woman inside, and thus it evokes how I dress, conservative and feminine. It makes me happy.

      Rhonda, I always love when you post your 80's photos. I absolutely LOVED that decade and it's fashion. Those suits were amazing.

    2. Totally agree with Christina...
      I especially love the 'oversize lens' glasses in that photo(with the 'drop temple eyepieces') that women were wearing in the 1980's.
      The oversize lens does a great job of accenting the eyes, as well as concealing 'man face'.
      Just check out an old vintage 'Wonder Woman' as 'Diana Prince'. YOWZA! I have a friend who has an actual FETISH for women in such frames....
      This style of frames is making a sloooow comeback, and I do own several pairs of 'non prescription, clear' lenses in that style, that came from Firmoo(?)


    OTOH, What if the person is a poseur?
    --Like that NEVER happens in Corporate Culture and certainly not in the POLITICAL, or RELIGIOUS/SPIRITUAL. My wife used to be a big fan of televangelist Joel "BIG HAIR" Osteen. I asked if she would follow him if he had no hair and looked like a 'toad'. She dumped him!
    As they say in Texas: "He is all hat and no cattle". (And maybe those 'fake longhorn horns' on the front grille of his second/third hand Cadillac...)
    Are you astute enough to tell/know the difference?
    This Friday on ABC's 20/20 is the story of Elizabeth Holmes, the fraudster of Theranos fame. She conned mega millions out of people who should have known better.
    Ms. Holmes wanted to do an extensive blood panel from a few drops of blood while outside of labor Compare that to the several ounces of blood drawn from the arm vein for your routine blood panel consisting of several different tests. Anyone with any mote of CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS would at first glance think the whole pitch was not PASSING THE SMELL TEST.
    Here is a link of what it takes to do a HDL/LDL panel....
    Apparently, Ms. Holmes thought all she had to do was 'gather a big corporate team' and let the geeks/nerds/wonks do the heavy thinking, and she would make mega bucks.....
    I have commented plenty of my 30-odd year journey through a 'Fortune 30' in other posts.
    Plenty of Stetsons, not much cattle.
    So much for image for the sake of image.