‘Dress for success’ rings true during finals


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Columnist Shankari says that finals week apparel is more important than you might think.

By Shankari Sureshbabu , Columnist

When planning for a big exam, most of us wouldn’t put dressing up at the top of our list of things to do.

I’m usually in a sweater and leggings myself. Sometimes, I even go so far as to bring a blanket with me to the library. It’s always about comfort. But currently, at 5:04 a.m., in some lecture hall in DCL, I am wearing a floral dress. Now, this isn’t because I had to study at 5 a.m. and go hit the runway at 6 a.m. — it’s because I have an organic chemistry midterm at 9 a.m.

I actually started dressing up for exams when I was still in high school. My theory was that if I had a big calculus test coming up, and I was inevitably going to fail, I might as well look good doing it.

Remarkably, I did notice that I felt better during and after taking the exam, and stuck with it as a personal pre-exam ritual. But in college, when it was a 7 a.m. final and I’d been up all night trying to figure out acids and bases (can you tell what I’m studying?), the idea of not wearing sweatpants and the biggest winter jacket known to man was laughable.

But recently, my friend Lily said she was going to dress up for our differential equations midterm, so she did. And she looked really nice. Ladies: Yes, you can kill that exam in a skirt.

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    Turns out, under the age-old motto of “dress for success,” she always throws on something cute before a test.

    As she put it: “If you’re wearing something nice, you sit up a little straighter, you focus a little better. It really puts you in the mindset of testing.”

    But this isn’t just the two of us. Dressing up to study or take an exam might sound like a waste of precious review time, but studies show that it could actually be beneficial to slip on that cute skirt before strutting into Noyes.

    Dressing up makes you feel powerful, it changes your attitude about the situation you’re in, which can definitely change your performance. Abraham Rutchick, psychology professor at California State University, found in his study called, “The Cognitive Consequences of Formal Clothing,” that something as basic as dressing nicely “changes the way we see the world.”

    Right now, it’s the last week of classes. We’re sitting on the brink of finals, trying to learn by osmosis material that could make or break our entire semester’s work, GPA and general mental sanity. But I think it’s time to address a super simple way to improve your attitude: dressing up.

    So next week, after you’ve been cramming all of the knowledge known to man into your brain and you feel like sleep is a myth, put on that cute dress or suit and go kill that final.

    Shankari is a sophomore in LAS.

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