They say you never get a second chance at a first impression, so dress accordingly. OK, so we added that last part, but it’s not completely off base. The clothes we wear, as in the style, cut, and color, are capable of communicating certain traits of our personality before we’ve even opened our mouth to introduce ourselves. Psychologists refers to this as thin slicing, or thin slices.

As Psychology Today explains, thin slices are the very small window — about five minutes — people use to observe and “accurately draw to conclusions in the emotions and attitudes of the people interacting.” In mere minutes, your friends, dates, and job interviewers can surmise your level of intelligence, status, sexual orientation, and more. If they happen to glance at your shoes, one study suggests they can correctly judge your age, political affiliation, and emotional personality traits.

Though this methodology is well-researched and considered to be accurate, it’s a precarious idea that people know all about our personality in the time it takes to get your morning latte. So let’s check the science.

Color Can Trick You

We’re exposed to color psychology as soon as we’re born: girls dress in pink, boys dress in blue. Color has the power to evoke everything from femininity and masculinity, to emotion and appetite. Lighter tones can suggest friendliness, and darker tones can suggest authority. If we’re talking tangible products, a Canadian study found 90 percent of consumers’ first impressions are based on color alone. There’s also such a thing as “ too much color,” an otherwise fashion faux paus.

The color red in particular is known to evoke strong emotions, passion, and intensity — and it may be the easiest to judge on men and women. A study published in the journal Biology Letters found men wearing red in athletic settings can inspire aggression and competition. Even in neutral settings, men wearing red were perceived as more aggressive and angry than men wearing blue or gray. In a 2009  study, Dr. Juliet Zhu found the color blue suggests “knowledge, power, integrity, and seriousness. It evokes a sense of calmness while stimulating creativity.”

Women wearing red, on the other hand, are perceived differently. In fact, men report feeling more sexually attracted to women in red clothes and lipstick; they’re even willing to spend more money on their date. Similarly, a study from the University of Rochester found waitresses who wore red lipstick earned greater tips than those not wearing lipstick.

That’s not to say red can’t signal aggression between women. Women perceive other women wearing red as more of a threat, perhaps because it’s so tied to sexual attraction and provocation. The general draw to the color among both sexes is considered biological, especially for women who seem to wear this color more during ovulation. The point is that color gives off a distinct vibe and its implication may be best reserved for certain settings.

Dress to Impress

Business Insider (BI) recently reviewed several studies relating to first impressions. Among these studies were a couple that found the quality and cut of clothes are capable of communicating your status and level of intelligence.

For example, people wearing name-brand clothes are perceived as higher status than those wearing conventional brands. And people who have their clothes tailored are considered to be more successful than those who wear clothes that aren’t as fitted or flattering.

Interestingly, business-wear is a bit more complicated for women.

“Women generally have a wider choice of dress style for work than men, but still have to maintain an identity that balances professionalism with attractiveness,” researchers of a 2011 study wrote. Their solution is a “skirt suit,” an outfit that “may achieve that balance without appearing provocative.”

These kinds of clothes don’t only influence what others think of you, but they influence what you think of yourself. An interesting study recently published in the journal of Social Psychological & Personality Science found people in formal clothes think more abstractly and experience more feelings of power, thus affirming the idea of a power suit (or skirt). Abstract thinkers are better able to solve problems, analyze and evaluate complex subjects and theories, and understand relationships between verbal and nonverbal ideas.

Better yet, abstract thought is otherwise considered a “psychologically distant state of mind,” wrote Jeremy Dean, a psychologist in the UK and author of PsyBlog: Understand Your Mind . It’s in this state of mind we’re better able to make challenging tasks seems easier, generate self-insight, gain emotional control, and seriously boost creativity.

Formal attire, however, isn’t always favored. Harvard psychologists believe there’s a time and place for jeans and a t-shirt, that the comfortable combination can, in some settings, be perceived as a sign of wealth and celebrity.

Mind What You Wear

If clothes can influence our thoughts, than they can absolutely influence our mood. In her book Mind What You Wear: The Psychology of Fashion , Karen Pine cites research from Adam Galinski, who was the first to coin the term “enclothed cognition.” Psychology Today reported that this term initially referred to the improvements made in “a person’s mental agility when wearing a white coat.” The white coat “primed their brain to take on the sharper mental capacities they associated with being a doctor.” So essentially, psychologists believe “we become what we wear.”

And maybe it’s more the feel of the clothes, rather than the clothes themselves providing insight to our personality. That feeling of confidence. Inc reported that those with higher levels of confidence share several qualities, such as listening more than they speak; freely asking for help; not putting other people down; and owning their mistakes.  

Jeff Harden, the contributing editor who compiled the list, wrote: “Truly confident people know that access is almost universal. They can connect with almost anyone through social media. (Everyone you know knows someone you should know.) They know they can attract their own funding, create their own products, build their own relationships and networks, choose their own path — they can choose to follow whatever course they wish.”