Did you know there is an overlap between fashion and mental health? Fashion psychology is an “interdisciplinary field that examines the interaction between human behavior, individual psychology, and fashion, as well as the various factors that impact an individual’s clothing choice” (Wikipedia). Style is not just about your aesthetics! It’s a profound dialogue between self-image and the clothing/accessories we use to express it.
Every piece you wear tells the story of who you are, every hue echoes a mood, and every look has the potential to play a pivotal role in our mental well-being and identity. The definition of fashion psychology makes getting dressed sound super serious, but it’s not. Rather, fashion is an opportunity to express your innermost self to the world. It’s literally wearing your heart on your sleeve!
1: The Mirror of Mental Health
Fashion serves as a barometer for our mental state. It reflects subtle shifts in our well-being, signaling times of distress or flourishing through our sartorial choices. How we dress can be a non-verbal cue to the world about who we are and how we feel – a visual language that conveys more than words ever could.
Stacy London (of What Not To Wear style lore) said, “Style matters. Use it or lose it.” Let’s be honest, you must get dressed every time you leave the house. It is your opportunity to “speak” with every person you meet- you can use it to express who you are or let that voice be lost. Dressing for your mood can help you acknowledge your feelings and know yourself better. Are you feeling sad? Perhaps you’ll gravitate to darker shades and more oversized fits! Are you feeling joy? Maybe you will bring on the colors or a striking print!
Using fashion can help us to get these feelings out of our hearts and souls and into the world. As women, we tend to suppress or push away our “negative” emotions. What would happen if we fully embraced our sadness, anger, fear, or boredom? By taking time to sit and explore these feelings, we can bring ourselves back to a balanced state. On the flip side, dressing for our joy, love, serenity, or hope can bring the light we feel to those around us. By wearing our happiness, we can radiate a positive light.
2. Enclothed Cognition
The concept of ‘enclothed cognition’ illustrates the psychological impact of our clothing choices on our self-perception and cognitive functions. Like slipping on a white lab coat can enhance focus and performance, our daily wardrobe selections can empower us, alter our self-image, and influence our behavior and attitudes. Ever notice that you feel you can take on the world when you wear your favorite dress? Or does that pair of platforms make your confidence soar? The old phrase “dress for the job you want” is incredibly accurate. When it comes to fashion psychology and enclothed cognition, you have the power to change your day just by getting dressed in the morning.
Point 3: The Self-Creation through Style
Fashion is not about conforming to trends but rather a perpetual act of self-creation. It is a means of navigating the paradoxical desire to fit in while standing out. Personal style allows us to express our individuality and be part of a cultural collective. Our clothing choices can be a daily reaffirmation of our identity or a transformative tool that enables us to project the person we aspire to be. It can also allow us to experiment with being someone we are not! For instance, usually wear a cottagecore aesthetic; instead, try a dark academia vibe! If you veer toward a minimalist look, put on a few more accessories for some maximalism or vice versa.
In the intricate tapestry of fashion psychology, every thread matters. With the subtle way it reflects and shapes our self-image, fashion is undeniably interwoven with our mental health. As we pick out our attire each day, we’re not just selecting pieces of fabric but are actively engaging in a process that can uplift, empower, and redefine us. Let’s embrace the power of fashion as a positive force in sculpting our self-image and enhancing our psychological well-being. As Stacy says, use it or lose it!