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Why Jeremy Corbyn should try to reap the benefits of ‘enclothed cognition’

Loathed as I am to jump on the bandwagon, Jeremy Corbyn really does need to sort out his attire. Over the past couple of weeks the press have described Jeremy Corbyn’s wardrobe has Soviet-era, fifty shades of beige, and Oxfam-chic. With suits that look more jumble sale and charity shop rather than Savile Row, the predominantly right wing press have had a field day describing Jeremy Corbyn’s wardrobe and however shallow all these observations seem, there is a strong truth in what they’re saying. The fact is, we like our leaders to look like leaders and you can’t really do this when it looks like your fashion sense has been influenced by your old Geography teacher. However endearing it may look, when it comes to establishing a presence on the world stage, I’m afraid that look won’t cut it.

Throughout history, leaders who wanted to make the right impression have had to step up their wardrobe. Now before you think that this is something that a Tailor is bound to say I am stating the above based on scientific evidence. It’s called ‘enclothed cognition’ and no, I haven’t just made that phrase up. It’s a well researched scientific fact.

Enclothed cognition is how people perceive and react to you based on what you’re wearing. For example, a medical practitioner will wear a white lab coat for a reason. The reason is because it displays professionalism, scientific know-how and creates trust. When we see a doctor who is in a white uniform we immediately feel more secure and we believe we are going to be in safe hands.

There are lots of symbolic meanings to different types of clothes – uniforms or otherwise. The robes of a judge signify justice, the robes of a priest signify faith, the lycra of an athlete or cyclist signifies fitness and speed and you will not be surprised to hear me say that the cut of a tailor-made suit signifies power and importance!

When you put on a suit you think, feel and behave differently. If that suit has been tailored to your body shape then it feels like an extension of you and the status you hold. And it’s not just you who notices it. Others will react differently to you as well.

The clothes you wear undoubtedly exert an influence on the people around you but you have to be comfortable in your own skin to carry it off. If you’re the type of person who feels awkward and uncomfortable in a suit then you probably won’t be able to carry it off because others will see that you feel awkward as well. However, if you’re the type of person who is relatively comfortable getting suited up, then the better the suit is, the more you will raise your game.

So, in summary, if you want to feel the part, then you need to look the part. People still associate power and importance in the workplace as somebody in a suit, shirt and tie. Yes, I know there are notable exceptions like Mark Zuckerberg and Richard Branson who don’t get suited up, but on the whole, if you look at the attire of world leaders across the globe, they will be dressed in tailored suits and looking every inch the person in charge.

So what should Jeremy Corbyn do? If he suddenly started to get all Armani on us, the press would rip him to shreds but to be honest, if he could ride the storm, that would soon die down. If Jeremy Corbyn was to work with a decent tailor, then that tailor would know how to work with him to make him look more the part without diminishing his personality. In fact, it is part of a tailor’s job to ensure that a person’s individuality shines through when it comes to choosing their wardrobe.

If Jeremy Corbyn was to reap the benefits of ‘enclothed cognition’ then he might just get the response that he needs to be taken seriously…..by all corners of the press.

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Developing an individual style

I am often asked by my clients about what the latest fashion and styles are in men’s tailoring and my answer is always the same. Fashion and style are two different things. Fashion is what may be popular at this present moment but it doesn’t mean
that will always be the case. Style is something that you develop and stands the test of time. It’s something that you learn from experience and being comfortable in your own skin.

Every man’s wardrobe should contain the right mix of fashion and style items so that you can wear what’s on-trend now and pieces that are more individually tailored to you, your personality and what makes you unique. Fashion is about the here and now, style is about the detail. Developing your own style is something that a good tailor can help you with because a good tailor will take the time to get to know you, what your lifestyle is like and how your body shape will suit certain clothes.

When it comes to developing your own style there will normally be your casual-self and professional-self that you need tailoring for. A good tailor will know how you can mix and match pieces to create that smart-casual look that so often is the dress attire
for events and specific occasions. Knowing your own style can be more difficult than it seems and it often helps to work with a tailor who can work with you and introduce you to palettes of colours and accessories that you might not previously have considered.

As well as in the suit you’re wearing you can bring out your individual style in a tie, waistcoat, pocket square, cufflinks scarf or hat. Accessories are great when it comes to experimenting with style and finding a fit that suits your personality and makes you more distinctive.

Why not try a bit of experimenting yourself this autumn and see how you can develop your own individual style?

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Why should you dress up?

When Lewis Hamilton was recently refused entry into the Royal Box at Wimbledon for not being dressed smartly enough I have to admit to a certain smug smirk. As a tailor I sometimes get downhearted by the unmitigating slide towards casualness where nobody bothers to dress up anywhere. Visits to the theatre, fine dining restaurants, important social occasions etc should be an occasion to dress up and if you can’t dress up for the Royal Box at Wimbledon when will you dress up?!

Anyway, excuse the rant but it is a bit of a hobby horse of mine. Dressing up isn’t about one-upmanship or displaying wealth, it’s simply a case of having a sense of style and expressing yourself. Here are my five top reasons why every man should make the effort to dress up, especially if the occasion calls for it:

Self Confidence and Maturity – being smart shows that you are comfortable in your own skin and that you have the confidence to project your style. It will display to others that you are mature, motivated and have respect for the occasion.

Self Respect – you will feel good about yourself. The time, effort and pride you take in the way you look will boost your self image and it can’t fail to be noticed by others.

Positive Reaction – clothes maketh the man and when you look good, people respond more positively to you. You stand out more and people will value the fact that you take care in your appearance.

Improves mindset – when you look the part you feel the part. Whether you’re dressing for an important social occasion or business meeting, dressing smartly will keep you focused, create the right impression, and also keep you on your game.

Remembered – the sharper you look the more you will be remembered. This may not be important to you but in some cases, especially interview situations, being remembered for all the right reasons is crucial.

So, as autumn approaches, take a look at your social and business diary and highlight those occasions that deserve some sartorial effort. And if your wardrobe isn’t up to the task, it’s time to invest!