Enclothed Cognition and The Dungaree
No mention is made of dungarees in John Carl Flugel’s 1930s article ‘The Psychology of Clothes’ published in issue 18 of International Psycho-analytical Library. Much is made of how particular items of clothing ‘serve the motives of decoration, modesty, and protection’, but nothing about the dungaree.
That we undergo profound psychological changes when we put on specific clothes has long been known, although it is only quite recently that the concept has been given its own name. ‘Enclothed Cognition’ (H Adam, AD Galinsky – Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 2012) was created to describe ‘the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes’, but with the caveat that the influence of clothes depends on wearing them and their symbolic meaning.
In the deep past (the 17th century to be precise) dungarees were squarely in the category of workwear; of a cheap, coarse, thick cotton, either blue or white, they were originally worn by the very poor in India. In the boom years of 19th century American expansion, they reappeared as the go-to attire of railroad and construction workers; savvy pioneers looking to get ahead and get rich. Not so in 2019; dungarees (and their cool sister the jump suit) feature in fashionable and celebrity wardrobes because they are so versatile and according to Love30 they are particularly great when you don’t know what the weather is going to do (a full-time job for the British) allowing for plenty of layering and showing off your marvellous knitwear. What the fashion blogs fail to mention is that dungarees are the go-to attire for modern girls totally focused on their learning; too busy being optimistic in the classroom and collaborating with their peers, dungarees are for girls who have no time for fussing about the length of their skirt.