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.