6 Bizarre Wardrobe Life Hacks That Science Says Work
Unless you're an overworked stripper or an Internet comedy writer, you probably wear clothing every day. You think you know it pretty well: shirts to cover your shameful torso, pants to contain your pendulous genitalia, shoes for kicking. But clothing can do a whole lot more than that. And some of it is pretty amazing stuff, like ...
Wearing The Same Thing Every Day Helps You Make Good Decisions
Even those of us on the bottom of the economic ladder recognize the importance of having a few different outfits that we can rotate out every day in order to trick our co-workers into believing we understand basic hygiene. But then, many of the modern world's most famous CEOs are renowned for their incredibly unoriginal fashion choices. Steve Jobs, for example, was widely parodied for wearing the same black turtleneck and jeans every day. Mark Zuckerberg gets out of bed each morning and throws on the same gray T-shirt and black hoodie, and even Einstein reportedly threw open his wardrobe each morning to pick out one of several identical gray suits.
"The world was just black and white back then, so it wasn't that big a deal."
There's a reason for that: Our brains actually have a set amount of thinking power every day, and just like the battery in your phone or laptop, running unnecessary applications tends to wear that down. It's called decision fatigue, and it's a real problem among people whose job is to make decisions all day. Successful people minimize the number of trivial decisions they need to make every day in favor of more important ones. Even Barack Obama, when questioned about the fact that he tends to wear the same suit every day, admitted it's because he has "many other decisions to make."
"I pick ... Uzbekistan. No! Wait! Bulgaria. Yeah, definitely Bulgaria."
"Very well, sir. Nuking Bulgaria."
Of course, this whole fashion thing is a lot easier when you're rich enough to employ either other people to make those decisions for you or other people to beat the shit out of the people mocking your one outfit. Both methods are equally sound.
Thick, Black Clothing Is Better At Keeping You Cool
There's a reason goths love the night: Black clothing just doesn't jive with blazing sunshine. Black clothes are hotter; white clothes are cooler -- common knowledge, right? Not to the Bedouin tribes of the Sahara Desert. When the heat starts to reach extremes, the Bedouin locals keep themselves cool by draping themselves in thick, black cloaks, which is the exact opposite of every piece of advice you've ever heard. But centuries of tradition have shown that it actually works, and now science is backing that up.
"Oh, good, science says it's OK. Hey guys! Science says we can wear black!"
Traditional Bedouin garb is composed of several loose-fitting layers, so the outfit actually serves as a kind of human Thermos. It's true that the black robes are effective at absorbing heat, but that's actually how the whole thing works -- the outer layer is so effective at absorbing the heat that it doesn't radiate further down to the lower layers. But still, you'd expect that the Bedouins would start to bake, just like the center of a Hot Pocket will eventually heat up sometime before your house burns down.
"He put me back in for another 10 seconds, switching the temperature
from 'Cold Void Of Space' to 'Earth's Magma Core.'"
But the wind itself is a better conductor of heat than your body is. So even as the blazing sun pumps heat into a Bedouin's black robes hand-over-fist, the wind takes it away faster than it can seep back into the body. Plus it, like, reflects the darkness they feel inside, mom.
Wearing A Superhero Costume Improves Your Self-Esteem
Hold on to your utility belts: Science says that kids dressed in superhero costumes engage in riskier activities and are more prone to injuring themselves. That time we tied on a sheet thinking we looked like Superman and then jumped off the garage could've told you that one, Science. Childhood injuries are the result of a basic combination of super-confidence coupled with the total ineptitude of a normal human body.
"You only broke your leg last time because you didn't yell, 'Up, up, and away!'"
But wouldn't it be nice to have that confidence boost in day-to-day life? Well, while it's sadly not socially acceptable to attend church in an authentic batsuit, the good news is that you can achieve the same effect just by wearing a nerdy-ass T-shirt. In a study conducted by the University of Hertfordshire, students wearing Superman tees gave higher estimates when asked how much they thought they could lift and regarded themselves more highly than others who wore normal shirts.
The effect of Hawkeye tees could not be determined because, of course,
nobody wears that shit.
But that doesn't say they actually could lift more or were deserving of that regard. So the next time you find yourself thinking you could kick the local bully's ass, check your torso: If you've got Spider-Man emblazoned there, that could just be the shirt talking.
Formal Clothing Helps Your Abstract Thinking
It's not surprising that wearing a suit to work makes people think you're more proficient. It is surprising that it actually does improve your ability to get stuff done. Five different studies of how formal clothing affects the wearer were conducted at Columbia University. Students had to either wear regular clothes or formal job-interview outfits before taking a barrage of cognitive tests. What they found was that the subjects wearing snappier clothing performed better at abstract processing. In layman's terms: Formal attire helps you see the forest instead of the trees.
"The only thing I see is how good I look."
Wearing something like a suit and tie hacks your brain into thinking about the big picture instead of focusing on insignificant details. The researchers believe that this is because formal clothing makes people feel powerful, which in turn results in higher-level, abstract thinking. Their other theory is that the change in brain activity is caused by an improvement in your mood that comes with looking and feeling good in your formal clothes.
"I don't know, Jim, I only have a medical degree and 20 years of experience.
Why don't we run this by the guy in the Armani three-piece in the waiting room."
Either way, it seems to defy conventional sense that the cumbersome suit with the colorful noose actually frees up your thinking, while the bitchin' Voltron-print mumu and moonboots is the outfit tying you down.
Copying Your Boss' Clothing Makes Them Like You More
In a survey by fashion company Debenhams of managers across the business world, 68 percent admitted that they felt better about and paid more attention to staff with a similar look to theirs. The psychology behind this is simple: We're drawn to people who are like us, which is pretty much also the mentality behind, you know, racism.
There's a reason they all dress the same.
This also explains why 32 percent of those surveyed said that they accidentally dressed like their colleagues two to three days a week. Co-workers even tend to subconsciously develop a uniform look. CEOs speaking to the Wall Street Journal confirmed that they appreciated when employees dressed almost like them. Just remember that the goal is to dress similar to your boss, not identical to your boss. And certainly don't break into your boss' house and steal his actual clothes, unless you're prepared to back up that sort of ballsy power play in the office.
Performance Garments Improve Your Athleticism (Only If You Truly Believe)
Performance-enhancing drugs are mostly illegal in sporting competitions, but that doesn't stop athletes from embracing legal alternatives. Top distance runners like Chris Solinsky, Shannon Rowbury, and Paula Radcliffe swear by the power of compression gear, and Trey Hardee won silver in the decathlon while plastered up with kinesio tape. That's some compelling anecdotal evidence, but if tight wrapping and tape actually made for better athletes, all Olympians would be trussed up like Christmas presents. Right?
"Oh, just wait 'til Rio."
A postdoctoral researcher at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas conducted a study to get to the bottom of this effect and confirmed that athletes showed exactly zero difference in their performance whether they were dressed in performance-enhancing clothing or not, with one notable exception -- the clothing did enhance performance to a measurable degree if the subjects truly believed that it would work.
The conclusion is that the positive results are most likely due to the good old placebo effect -- the body's tendency to actually respond to a treatment if the mind believes it will work, whether or not the treatment actually does anything. It's the very same effect that has kept such things as magnetic bracelets and the homeopathy industry in business for so long.
Do you really think if drug companies could get away with selling drugs that are
99.99999999 percent water, they would sell anything else?
So if you're a fan of wrapping your body in expensive duct tape and you'd like to keep scoring points on the field, the best advice we can give you is don't read this article. In retrospect, we probably should have put this disclaimer at the beginning.
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