The Power of Clothing

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those contemplating retirement find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after they retire. Her public lectures on this subject are titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking on this link:  Click here for her website:

Now, on to my blog:

Formal Dress Painting“Clothes make the man.” It’s true; dressing in a specific manner affects how we feel. We wear different clothes for different occasions.

When we put on a pair of jeans, we’re of a casual, getting-ready-for-physical-work mindset. When we dress in formal wear, we get into the spirit of a party or special occasion. A bathing suit prepares us mentally to go swimming or to the beach. All of those articles, of course, can be worn for other things, but we’ve associated a particular behavior with each, and our thoughts go to that place. Some people have their favorite dress, glove, hat, etc. to relax them, stimulate them, get them ready for some specific undertaking.

Buddhist monks wear soft-colored, lightweight, non-binding garb–so much easier for prayer and deep contemplation. Business people arrive at work in suits and ties to affect a persona. Many jobs require employees to wear uniforms often with accompanying badges or insignias to establish expectations on the part of both the wearer and the observer.  When I come home from a taxing day with no plans to go out again, I usually change into my old, comfy robe and slippers.  Instant calm and tranquility!

Children know all about this.  I love to watch my young granddaughters playing dress-up as they dive into a basket of well-worn, “fancy” clothes which they use to concoct outfits for themselves.  Princess and fairy are the favorites this week.  They are transformed into the role, staying in character while wearing their costumes.

Clothing tells a story.  It conveys profession, attitude, pursuit, leaning, wealth, poverty, and on and on.  People are judged by their clothing.  It is often the first thing noticed by others.

Manufacturers and the advertising industry are very aware of the power of clothing, and it has made them rich. For example, as each new sport catches on, clothing companies create a line of wear which they tout as essential for that activity. Remember when you could just climb on a bicycle and ride off? My preferred dress to cruise down the bike path at Santa Monica beach as a teenager was a tee-shirt and jeans with a cord tied around each ankle to keep the bottoms from getting caught in the bicycle chain. Now, the sporting goods stores sell form-fitting Spandex pants, matching shirts, bicycle helmets, special gloves, and more. First, you have to buy the bicycle for hundreds of dollars. Next, you have to fork out hundreds more just to get on the thing.

It’s unsure whether special clothing for the task at hand justifies the cost or whether it’s just an image we’ve succumbed to perpetrated by Madison Avenue types. The point, however, is that clothing does put us in a particular mental mode and affects how we feel about ourselves as we perform the designated behavior. That’s not necessarily good or bad. It’s just something to be aware of.

Help yourself reach a desired state of mind.  Wear clothing that assists you in getting there.

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1 Comment

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One response to “The Power of Clothing

  1. wallace king

    So true, Lee Gale. Great post.

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