He was a typical student, just friendly enough, had a few close pals, and got good grades. But all through high school, this one fellow would randomly wear a formal suit and tie to school. Most people just assumed he was dressing up for religious reasons – someone unknown holy day or perhaps an afterschool event. But one day, I finally got up the nerve to ask him why he was so dressed up. He didn’t mind me asking.
Test Day Success
He replied, it’s test day. He explained a little further that it’s scientifically proven that when we dress better, we perform better. He wanted to do his best on the test that day, so he dressed his best. He encouraged me to try it. I admit, I may not have dressed up quite as fancy as he did, but I made sure to put a little extra effort into my appearance on test days. He was right – I felt better about myself when I looked the part!
And it makes absolute sense! We all feel that little extra swagger when we look good! When our makeup is on point, or our clothes fit us just right, we feel good about ourselves. I see the extra bounce in your step when you’re having a good hair day – it’s almost magical. It’s also the reason we dig through every last piece of clothing in our closet to find just the right outfit to make us feel like we look good. When we feel bad about ourselves or our bodies, we stress out until we find an outfit that helps us feel better.
One study published by Sage Journals explains that when we dress the part, we feel more included in what we’re doing. It also changes our perception of ourselves, the people around us, and our abilities.
To put it simply, we feel more capable and powerful when we dress up for what we’re doing.
Think about it this way… We dress up for interviews and fancy dinners to impress others – but how often do we dress to impress ourselves?
Well, to be honest, over time, I completely forgot about the well-dressed student and his good advice.
That is until I heard a women’s cycling podcast talk about race days. The cyclists said it doesn’t matter how fast you really are; it matters that you look good. Because when you look good – and when you know you look good – you’ll race even better, and you’ll feel good about yourself.
I didn’t think too much more about it until I heard some new riders talking to the ride leader about (gulp) me and my cycling “outfit” (all positive, of course). It actually felt really nice to hear them call me ‘classy’ and ‘put together.’
You see, one of my favorite things to do is assist with my bike club’s beginner group ride. We take newer riders out riding and help them with basic skills like shifting and braking and even some minor bike fitting. We also have the privilege of teaching these new riders how to ride in a group safely.
It’s fun and exciting to see people grow in their confidence week by week. It keeps me excited because I get to experience the enthusiasm of being a newbie all over again. I remember the early days when I was anxious to ride on the road and afraid to ride close to anyone else, and I really love seeing people get comfortable with their cycling skills.
Often, new riders don’t have all the fancy bike clothes, and that’s ok! They can wear whatever they’re comfortable and safe riding in. It’s a welcoming and inclusive bunch. But during these rides, I receive compliments on my cycling attire because it’s the first time some of these new riders ever experienced bike clothes in person. They’ve never experienced a chamois or even ‘snack pockets’ in the back of a jersey.
I’ll confess, though – sometimes it’s easy for me to fall into the trap of imposter syndrome. Where I feel like a fake and worry the truth about me will be found out. I think we all feel that once in a while – like we’re not really good enough to be there and I hope that none of our beginner cyclists ever have to feel that way. But what I found is that when I love my cycling clothes- for their look, their fit, and their performance- I feel the part. I feel good about myself, which makes me a better rider.
When I look like a serious or experienced cyclist, I find that I am more likely to ride like one. Smoothly, confidently, predictably. And hopefully, faster!
As the old saying goes, the clothes make the man, or woman, or human being, as the case may be. And in a society where casual clothes are the norm (because we love comfort – there’s nothing wrong with that!), something that’s just a little bit extra nice can really help us do our best.
Whether that’s taking tests, riding in a beginner group, or gearing up for race day, looking good on the bike helps us ride better, further, and faster. It’s science!
So I challenge you to find a kit that not only feels good on you but also looks amazing. You’re going to love the way you ride because you will already feel better about yourself. So just like that student in high school – I encourage you to try it and see how you feel. I hope it gives you some bounce in your step, a fun safe ride, and a whole lot of speed!
Drop a note in the comments section and let me know which kit is your favorite!