Have you ever noticed, when you are feeling a bit down, how you put on certain or similar items of clothing? We all may throw on an outfit in the morning or any time of day and not give it much thought, but it turns out our choice of clothing is strongly affected by our moods and our clothing can influence out mood.
Happiness…….is not in the jeans!
A study carried out at the University of Hertfordshire by Professor Karen Pine found what a woman chooses to wear can be heavily dependent on her emotional state. Psychologist asked one hundred woman what they wore when feeling depressed, they found:
- over 50% said they wore jeans
- only one third said they would wear jeans when feeling happy
It was also found woman in a low mood were more likely to wear a baggy top:
- 57% wore a baggy top when depressed
- only 2% wore a baggy top when feeling happy
The study also revealed how woman are much more likely to wear a favourite dress when happy compared to when they are depressed:
- 62% of the woman wore a favourite dress when happy
- only 6% wore a favourite dress when depressed
They also found accessories can make a difference too:
- Twice as many woman said they would wear a hat when happy compared with when depressed.
- 31% said they would wear there favourite shoes when happy compared to only 6% when they were depressed, that’s 5 times as many woman wearing their favourite shoes when they are in a good mood than when feeling depressed.
So what does this tell us?
At the end of the study Professor Pine said “This finding shows that clothing doesn’t just influence others, it reflects and influences the wearer’s mood too. Many of the women in this study felt they could alter their mood by changing what they wore. This demonstrates the psychological power of clothing and how the right choices could influence a person’s happiness.” It was concluded that that this strong link between low mood and clothing suggests we should put on clothing that we associate with happiness, even if we are feeling in a low mood.
If I think about it, when I’m feeing down, I dig out my baggier clothing than I might do normally and I do tend to wear jeans more often if my mood is low. Do you find yourself doing this? Most of the time I don’t really think about what I’m wearing, I just look in the wardrobe and pick something. But I think a lesson could be learn’t here if we choose too. We all have days where our mood is either high, low or somewhere in between. This study shows that we can alter our mood if we want too by the clothing we choose to wear.
Dress Happy…..Be Happy
I imagine you have heard of how smiling can cause you to feel happy. Numerous studies have shown this cause and effect relationship between smiling and feeling happier. I think it’s the same principle working here, with what we choose to wear. The study demonstrates how clothing can have an influence on our mood and alter our mood for the better. If you wake up and feel a bit low, don’t just reach out for the ‘baggy top and jeans’, put on your favourite outfit or dress, wear your favourite pair of shoes and notice the difference you feel by doing so.
The study found that ‘happy’ clothes (the clothes that made the woman feel good in the study) were made from bright and beautiful fabrics, which had figure enhancing properties and were well-cut. Professor Pine stated that jeans lacked these features and went onto say “Jeans don’t look great on everyone. They are often poorly cut and badly fitting. Jeans can signal that the wearer hasn’t bothered with their appearance. People who are depressed often lose interest in how they look and don’t wish to stand out, so the correlation between depression and wearing jeans is understandable. Most importantly, this research suggests that we can dress for happiness, but that might mean ditching the jeans.”
Everyone is different and even though the study found that more than half of the one hundred woman asked found they wore jeans when feeling depressed, that doesn’t mean your ‘happy’ clothes can’t include jeans. Dress ‘happy’ and be happy by wearing the clothes that you associate with happiness when you are in a low mood, like smiling when you are feeling down, you feel happier. Wear your ‘happy’ clothes when feeling low, you feel ‘happier’. Why not try it?
This principle can also be applied to not just wearing the clothes that make you feel good if your mood is low, but choosing an outfit that will help you feel how you want to feel. For example, if you have an important meeting or presentation to go to or even give, how do you want to feel? I imagine you want to feel confident, so pick the outfit which you like that will help make you feel the most confident, maybe with your favourite pair of high heels (as long as they suit the occasion obviously, rocking up in your sparkly pink pair of Jimmy Choo’s is probably not the best way to please your boss). Not only will the outfit you’ve chosen make you feel confident and good, it will also radiate out how good you feel to those around you.
Mrs Greatly Careful’s Dress…..!
The odd thing is, I think I’ve known for a while how the clothes I wear can effect my mood, I just never realised it or put it into practice. I use to keep the clothes I really liked, my ‘happy’ clothes for a special occasion. I would keep them in the wardrobe for so long, barely wearing them, they went out of fashion and occasionally they still had the tag on them! I now make a conscious effort not to do this any more. In fact it was a story I heard as a child that made me realise this, it was called ‘Mrs Greatly Careful’s Dress’. It was about a lady, Mrs Greatly Careful, who had been given the most beautiful dress by a friend, it was the kind of dress that made others glad when they saw her wear it. But Mrs Greatly Careful was worried it would get worn out or spoiled so she put it in her wardrobe to keep it safe. Then one day when she came to wear it, she took it out it’s paper wrapping and found the months had eaten it and ruined the dress. Her friend who had given her the dress said “I gave you that dress to wear. Wearing it would have made you happy and seeing it would have have made others glad. I was going to give you another, but…. “. I think the morale here is wear the clothes that make you happy because by wearing them, helps you feel more positive and because you feel positive it will make others positive.
Try it and see….
So in the mornings choose your clothing based on how you want to feel or think rather than how you actually feel or think. If you are feeling low, dig out that dress or outfit which makes you feel good and you might be surprised how much more positive you feel.
I hate to say but with winter around the corner and the nights drawing in, that in itself makes me feel a bit low. So I’m going to put on my ‘happy’ clothes those mornings that make me feel low. Join me….and on those cold winter nights I’m still going to wrap up warm with a big baggy jumper because to me baggy doesn’t always mean ‘blue’.
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