Can Wearing Certain Clothing Affect Your Test Scores?

By Alexia Gonzalez on June 9, 2015

There is no denying that fashion can exert a certain power over the individual wearer. A person’s attire can completely alter their mood, behavior, and most of all their confidence.

Every girl has that one outfit that they pull out of their closet when they need to look their best or require a little bit of a confidence boost. And we can probably all admit that we’ve used retail therapy as a form of relaxation more than a few times.

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The inherent supernatural powers of an on-point outfit are a given when it comes to feeling your best, both socially and professionally. But who knew that an awesome ensemble could also cause you to pay closer attention and even potentially increase test scores?

In high school, test day usually meant wearing hoodies and a sweatshirt after a long night of cramming information until the hour before the exam. And seriously, who wants to dress up for an 8 a.m. exam after only four hours of sleep?

Upon entering college, and witnessing the success of more experienced classmates, you begin to realize that to dress well, can certainly allow you to test well. This idea simply proves that those who dress well on test days are likely to perform better.

According to academic researchers, clothing can definitely affect the way we think in an academic setting. A recent article in the New York Times described a phenomenon called “enclothed cognition.” Researchers found that people who put on a white doctor’s coat scored higher in tests related to paying attention.

When they wore an identical white coat they were told was a painter’s coat, their attention improvement was negligible. And they didn’t pay better attention if they simply looked at the coat — the subject had to be wearing it. The researchers concluded that for clothes to have this kind of effect they must be worn, and the wearer must understand their symbolic meaning.

Scientists haven’t discovered why this works, just that it does. But there is in fact truth to the idea that how a person dresses can affect their attitude and self-confidence. So the question comes down to, “what should I wear to ace my tests?”

When it comes to exam day, definitely prepare your ensemble the night before, to avoid running late or opting for a disheveled appearance due to laziness. You want to aim for what is known as the “power outfit.” Think of this as a pre-prepared ensemble made up of pieces that are both comfortable and flattering. Feeling as though you look good can substantially decrease nervousness. A power outfit is something that you can feel positive and confident in according to the situation.

For important test days opt for combining both style and comfort, making sure that you appear polished to feel your very best. Comfort is certainly an important factor in your ensemble due to the fact that an uncomfortable get up can easily distract you. However, when you appear put together in a flattering get up, you are less likely to become easily tired.

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Although a power outfit is definitely heavily based on personal preference, there are certain key elements that can easily be incorporated for any type of aesthetic and will work well for just about any student.

So the next time that you’re composing your “power outfit,” be sure to consider incorporating (or completely avoiding) some of these articles into your test day ensemble.

Items to wear:

Loose-fitting top – Whether you opt for the oversized sweater or your favorite tee shirt, wearing clothes that you can easily move around in will definitely make sitting in a desk for two hours a lot more manageable.

Layers – You never know what type of weather conditions you may be encountering in lecture halls these days. As a result, it’s always good to dress in layers to avoid being too cold or overly warm in class.

Jeans – Everyone has a favorite pair of jeans that fits just about perfectly so why not break them out for a test? Jeans are the perfect in-between to sweatpants and dress pants and can be worn both casually and more conservatively.

Comfortable Shoes – Although you may be sitting for several hours, uncomfortable shoes can cause some distraction regardless of a lack of movement. Be sure to wear shoes that you will not have to think about until walking out of class with an aced exam.

Items to avoid:

Heavy jewelry – An armful of bangles may be stylish but will only prove to be disruptive to classmates and a pain when trying to write out an in-class essay.

Tight clothing  — This may be restricting when trying to write and will most likely feel uncomfortable when needing to take that halfway mark stretch.

New shoes – Having your new flats pinching your toes during a two-hour test? Not completely worth the style points.

Short Shorts – It may be summer and the perfect time for some denim cutoffs, but you will definitely be regretting your decision if you constantly have to pull down your shorts during an exam.

Currently seeking a Master's Degree in Media and Communication Studies with a Certification in Multicultural Marketing. Also an undergraduate Public Speaking Instructor at Florida State University. Along with media studies and marketing, I have extensive experience in journalism, writing for outlets such as the Huffington Post and USA Today. Lover of food, fitness, travel, music, and film. 23 years old and bilingual.

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