Style to Smile
This ever happen to you? You wake up in the morning, you’re cranky, not sure why, maybe you didn’t get enough sleep, maybe you slept on your pillow the wrong way but regardless, you’re immediately in a bad mood.
You are getting ready to go to school, work or do whatever you do, to start your day. Maybe it’s going down to the kitchen where you eat breakfast and then work. Thanks, COVID!
The BIG QUESTION:
What do you do NEXT when you go to your closet?
Scenario 1: You stand there, pause, and then give into your mood, picking your fit for the day, the darkest, drabbiest, baggy clothes that match your current state of mind.
Scenario 2: You stand there, pause and decide, what I do in the next 2 minutes could actually impact my mood. You are dying to put on those sweatpants but instead you pick a fuchsia cardigan, a blue and white pinstripe button down, a string of white pearls and electric blue wide-legged trousers and a comfy but retro pair of cowboy boots.
I’m here to tell you if you picked Scenario 2, I honestly think the rest of your day would improve.
Here’s why clothing impacts your mood:
What you wear, not only changes the way you look but it also can change the way you feel! So if you want to smile, think about your style. That may sound crazy but hear me out.
I think everyone would agree that your feelings impact your fashion. If you are in a bad mood or feel bad about yourself, for whatever reason, you tend to want to go for the above Scenario 1, the baggy shirt & sweatpants. You know “comfort clothes”.
But is the opposite true? Meaning if you are in a bad mood, can your attire impact your attitude? As your personal Clothing Counselor, I’m here to say “yes”. Not just because I practice “fashion therapy” but because there are actual social science studies and surveys that suggest this impact.
“What a strange power there is in clothing.” ~Isaac Bashevis Singer
FASHION STUDIES ON HOW CLOTHING IMPACTS YOUR MOOD:
- One study conducted by Professor Karen Pine, from the psychology department at the University of Hertfordshire in Britain found 52% of women admitted to wearing baggy clothes when depressed and 62% of women wore their favorite dress when happy.
- There is another study that was done at Northwestern University where they introduce the term “enclothed cognition”, a theory that claims clothes have influence over the wearer’s psychological processes. Two psychologists, Hajo Adam and Adam Galinsky conducted a study and found that clothes can have a symbolic meaning for us and what we wear can actually influence our psychological state. Their “lab coat” experiment found when people wore a lab coat rather than a regular coat, their actions changed, they were more detail oriented and precise as someone might be whose profession would require a lab coat.
This concept of your clothing impacting your mental health has been coined many things from “Dopamine Dressing to Fashion Therapy to Enclothed Cognition (as we just read) to name a few.
I don’t care what you call it but I say, TRY IT…..try “fashion therapy”. Why Not?
This type of therapy could be more important now than ever before. We’ve all been impacted by COVID. Many of us have been dressing very differently this year than in any other year in our lives.
So let’s look at fashion and mental health during the pandemic.
- The fashion industry has suffered greatly, the New York Times describing it as the industries “worst year in history”. Overall clothing sales fell 79%, yet sweatpants sales, saw 80% increase in sales. Clearly proof of the change in our style.
- Studies show depression has tripled in the U.S. since COVID.
So the question is are we happy in our sweatpants or better yet are our sweatpants making us happy? I’m not saying there is a direct link. Come on, I’m a business fashion major not a trained psychologist or researcher. But I firmly believe there’s definitely something to fashion and color psychology. How much of an impact does it have on us? I’m not sure. It’s a field that hasn’t had enough scientific research conducted to prove conclusive evidence one way or another.
So everyone can try “fashion therapy” for themselves and see if it works.
Self Treat with Fashion Therapy:
Conduct your own experiment. Try enacting some fashion therapy on the day you don’t feel so great and see what happens. Dress the way you would, when you are extremely happy, on a day where you wake up in a bad mood. See what happens. Did you instantly feel better, the second you got dressed? Did you gradually get in a better mood? How did people react to you? Did they assume you were having a great day and responded by feeding off your positive energy? Did it not make a difference? Try it for 30 days.
What to Wear to Impact Your Mood:
- Red: Apparently red is the color that sparks the most emotional response. Red is linked to feelings of passion, love, as well as power and/or anger. It’s also the 2nd brightest and most noticeable color, according to VeryWellMind.com so if you want to get noticed, grab anything red in your closet.
- Yellow: Is the brightest color we have, the most attention-grabbing. It can evoke strong emotions, cheerful, energetic, happiness, spontaneity, etc.
- Purple: Is a rare color in nature so the red/blue mixture is associated with mystery. It evokes emotions of royalty, wealth and creativity.
- Blue: Is the opposite of purple in the sense that it’s often associated and seen in nature. Different blues can be associated with different feelings but overall blue is associated with calmness, productivity, security and trust.
- Pink: Is associated with romance, femininity and feeling joyful, playful, even charming. People who are drawn to pink seem to have associated it with good memories. People who don’t like pink typically have associated with a negative experience.
- Orange: Is another color associated with energy. It’s associated with warmth, enthusiasm, it’s also attention grabbing like yellow.
- Black: Is complicated. It’s not actually a color. It’s the absence of color right or all colors combined. Black is bold and can represent sophistication, boldness, luxury, elegance. Black is a unique color though because it can also represent very negative feelings such as anger, aggression, fear and sadness.
- Brown: Is also complicated. It represents being grounded, solid, stable, warmth but also can be associated with negative feelings like loneliness, sadness and isolation.
Comfort: Touch is an important sense that can impact your feelings. Consider wearing soft fabrics to help and improve your mood. Fabrics like cashmere, pashmina, silk and cotton can make us feel happy and comforted.
Scent: Smell is a powerful mood alterer. Scents can remind you of places and times when you had a positive or even negative experience. A nostalgic fragrance can bring back memories and make you feel confident, happy, and calm.
The clothes you wear, whether it be the fabric, the color, the fit itself, the perfume you choose, the way you do your hair can all impact your creativity, your mood, your energy. So if you are having a bad day or week, try something different with your style and see if that helps you smile a little more.
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