If you were thinking twice about buying those cute sneakers to work out in at the gym, you might want to go and buy them.

Northwestern University researchers Hajo Adam and Adam Galinsky wanted to answer the question, “Does the clothing we wear influence our own behavior and the way we think and act?” So, will wearing cuter clothes while working out motivate you to work out more? Adam and Galinsky’s 2012 study says absolutely.


The two researchers coined the term “enclothed cognition” to describe the mental changes that we experience when we wear certain clothing. Volunteers for the study were given either a lab coat or ordinary apparel and then were asked to perform specific tasks. Those who wore the lab coats were significantly more successful in completing their tasks effectively. “It’s all about the symbolic meaning that you associate with a particular item of clothing,” Adam says.

He thinks the study’s results can be applied to many more fields, including activewear and fitness. “I think it would make sense that when you wear athletic clothing, you become more active and more likely to go to the gym and work out.”

Those at the fitness apparel brand Lululemon Athletica seem to find that this study works. Their activewear has exploded on the scene, and it’s transformed what activewear means to the masses. Instead of strictly making clothes to wear to the gym, Lululemon aims for their clothing to be wearable while running errands that need to be done before or afterward, too. Gone are the days of feeling the need to change out of those frumpy gym clothes.

Their activewear, though often judged overpriced, has become a staple when it comes to looking pulled together while sweating it out. The company has run into plenty of controversy, when former CEO Chip Wilson said that yoga pants weren’t meant for some women’s bodies and when the brand released yoga pants that were too sheer back in March. Still, their activewear market grew 7 percent over the previous year, according to an NPD report.

“Once you start feeling better, you’re gonna dress the way you feel,” psychologist and personal trainer Susan Rudnicki says. “Your clothes represent your inner motivation and feelings. It’s a feedback loop — I feel good, so I’m going to wear the things that make me look good.”

What do you think about the study?

 Photo via barbellaacademy