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Why You Rip Off Your Clothes When You Get Home From Work

Maybe science — and nudists — can explain why our clothes feel so damn uncomfortable as soon as we step through the door

My boobs are strapped to my chest like a muzzle on a dog. I don’t think about that much while I’m sitting at my desk all day, but once I walk through the door of my apartment, I become acutely aware of every inch of my bra, digging into my shoulders and smothering my ribcage. It simply must come off, or else I’ll lose my shit.

The same is true for pants. They squeeze my legs all day, but only when I put my bag down on my living room floor do I actually realize it.

What is this phenomenon, exactly — clothes feeling much more uncomfortable as soon as I get home? It may be basic Pavlovian psychology: I am in my comfort zone, thus I need to be comfortable. Still, I’d like to think I’m slightly more complex than a dog who salivates at the ringing of a bell.

As it turns out, what we wear has a psychological effect. There’s an actual scientific name for this: “enclothed cognition.” This is according to researchers Hajo Adam and Adam Galinsky, whose 2012 study was published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. They found that the symbolic meaning of clothing and the physical experience of wearing it affect the way we think.

“We argue that just like physical experiences, the experience of wearing clothes triggers associated abstract concepts and their symbolic meanings. … When a piece of clothing is worn, it exerts an influence on the wearer’s psychological processes by activating associated abstract concepts.” Translated for my dumb naked self: CLOTHES = WORK = SAD. NO CLOTHES = HOME = HAPPY.

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Am I overthinking it? Probably! So I asked the experts in being naked — actual nudists — about why taking off your clothes at the end of the day is such a joy.

“Clothes become uncomfortable the instant you put them on, and they become even more so as the day wears on,” says Bill, a dad based in Texas. Bleak!

But a lot of nudists put it a bit more optimistically. Taking your clothes off is almost like a reward for having been a human all day. “It’s difficult to find words to describe that sense of freedom when you clock out and you get rid of constraining elements, either immediately in a locker room, in the car or upon closing the home door,” says Bob, a 40-year-old nudist. “Perhaps because you realize you have the opportunity and option to remove them,” says Steve, 54, a nudist in Boston. “[It’s] almost like peeling off the burden(s) of the day as you get to your comfort zone.”

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But not everyone agreed with my premise that clothes feel much more uncomfortable at the end of the day. “If your clothes feel uncomfortable, you suck at shopping for/wearing clothes,” says Ray, a 35-year-old nudist. To that I ask, have you ever experienced the underwire in a bra? Worn a thong? High-waisted jeans? Pantyhose and heels? If you wear these items daily and still feel comfortable, please trade your skin with mine.