Dress to NOT impress: does wearing comfy clothes affect school performance and attitude

Jacqueline Guillena , Staff Writer

From pajamas and sweats, sweatshirts and jeans, or even something as formal as a dress or suit, students differ wildly in what they deem appropriate for school. Someone’s mood may contribute to what they wear for the day.
“Being uncomfortable affects everything you do — your mental processing time, your memory and your level of patience with the students,” Roxanna Elden said in a BAM! radio show interview for Education Week Teacher.
Teachers and students often dress according to their lesson plans and what corresponds to the class subject. For example, a Consumer Foods teacher might dress in jeans and an easily- washable shirt in case of grease splatters or flour spills. Other teachers — like those who teach English, math or history — may feel comfortable dressing more formally. The teachers’ dress code follows the same regulations as the students.
“Seeing other teachers wear more nice clothing projects and shows that the teacher takes their job seriously,” Consumer Foods teacher Kelly Smith said. “Teaching is our job and we’re at work, and it’s more professional dressing in nice clothes rather than sweats and pajamas.”
Some students dress depending on how they feel when they wake up in the morning, as many don’t feel pressured to impress anybody at school with their clothing choices.
“I dress in sweats to be comfortable in class when doing my work, but it doesn’t affect my mood,” junior Leilani Demayo said.
Students may prefer comfort over professionalism because they put their education above personal interactions or relationships.
“I dress how I dress, and I’m not here to impress anybody,” junior Jamya Brice said. “If I dress down, it’s to be comfortable. If I dress more classy, I’m still comfortable. At the end of the day, I’m here to get an education rather than fish for compliments.”
Other students say they usually prefer dressing professionally rather than comfortably. However, rather than dressing to impress others, they dress up for themselves.
“I dress in a suit three times out of the week to look nice,” junior Matthew Zahos said. “I don’t care what others think about the way I dress. I do it for myself,”
The “Journal of Experimental Social Psychology” notes a research study on the relationship between clothing and work performance.
“Subjects made half as many mistakes on an attention-demanding task when wearing a lab coat,” Matthew Hutson said in an article for “Scientific American.” “On another attention task, those told their lab coat was a doctor’s coat performed better than either those who were told it was a painter’s smock or those who merely saw a doctor’s coat on display.”
So the old adage “fake ‘it til you make it” might begin by dressing the part.