Can the way you dress improve your mood?

Can the way we dress improve our mood?
Can the way we dress improve our mood?
Can the way we dress improve our mood?
Can the way we dress improve our mood?

I don't really remember exactly when I started gravitating towards bright colours, but I am pretty sure it all started with this yellow biker jacket. I walked into a Bershka store when I was in Brighton and instantly fell in love with it. My first yellow item. Then my obsession with bright colours snowballed when I realised that I could absolutely pull them off. From a neon pink Ted Baker dress to a bright orange blazer, I’m slowly making my way across the colour spectrum - though I’m yet to find something blue, green or purple to wear!

Anyway, I started to notice that the way I was dressing was resulting in two things.

Firstly, people were complimenting me on my outfits. Not just my Mum or friends, but actual strangers stopping me in the street and telling me they thought my jacket was a beautiful colour and asking where I bought it. Which gave me a little boost of confidence and a spring in my step, not just because it was nice to hear, but also because I felt like the splash of colour had brought a little sunshine to their day.

Secondly, whenever I slipped on my bright yellow jacket or orange blazer, I felt awesome. It made me feel more confident and more self-assured. It’s weird, the transformative, positive effect that wearing a bright colour had on my mentality and attitude. I actually wore this jacket on my first date with Dan so if that ain’t proof that a splash colour works wonders for your confidence, I don’t know what is!

So I did some thinking and some research into this whole idea of whether the clothes we wear can have a positive impact on our moods - and potentially even our mental health. I took to Instagram and Twitter and did a few polls on whether people agreed with me or not and over 90% of people who answered each one said that yes, they do think the way we dress can improve our mood. There’s also a fair about of scientific evidence to back it all up!

Can the way we dress improve our mood?

Biker jacket - Bershka; Top & Culottes* - F&F Clothing; Trainers - Adidas Stan Smiths; Bag* - F&F Clothing; Cluse watch* - Brown's Family Jewellers

Can the way we dress improve our mood?

Fashion psychology?

I bet they are two words you never thought you’d see in the same sentence! Fun fact: I actually have a huge interest in human psychology and how humans think and behave in certain ways depending on different variables, so my inner geek was LOVING reading up on this.

Anyway, I found a really interesting article on HuffPost titled, ‘How Clothing Choices Affect and Reflect Your Self-Image’ which looked at the link between your clothes and the impact they have on your mood, health and overall confidence. This is called ‘enclothed cognition’ (ooooh) which involves two things:

  1. The symbolic meaning of the clothes
  2. The physical experience of wearing them

This has been tested by asking a group of subjects perform tests whilst wearing a lab coat, a painters coat and not wear any of the coats. They found that their attention increased when wearing the doctors’ coats, but not when wearing painters’ coats or no coats. So basically, they felt like an intelligent BOSS wearing a lab coat so it made them perform better.

And I absolutely think this is reflected in our everyday lives too. I have a bright yellow jumper that I bought from ASOS and it became my ‘Monday jumper.’ Everybody hates Mondays and everybody hates them more when they wet, cold and in the middle of winter. My solution? Wear a bright yellow jumper. Not only was I snuggly AF, I also brought some much-needed sunshine to the office and my mood.

My Grandma is a good example of this too. When my Grandad passed away, she pretty much stopped wearing black and I can’t think of a point in the last ten years where she hasn’t worn something other than bright and pastel colours. I don’t even think she has a black coat. She always buys something bright which makes her feel better.

Can the way we dress improve our mood?
Can the way we dress improve our mood?
Can the way we dress improve our mood?

I found another statement (backed by studies) that said when we put on a piece of clothing, we cannot help but adopt some of the characteristics associated with it, even if we are unaware of it. So if you put on your casual clothes to go to work, you might not be as productive as when you wear a smarter office wear. I certainly feel like more of a #GirlBoss when I’m wearing something sassy for a meeting.

When I asked the Internet for feedback I got LOADS. Most people said that yep, when they felt a bit down, they put on some bright lipstick and the outfit they feel best in and face the day. Other people also said that they will often dress depending on their mood. So, if you’re feeling a bit under the weather, you don’t reach for your heels, you reach for your comfiest pair of joggers. Which absolutely makes sense.

I think I do a bit of both. I dress to affect my mood, and I dress to reflect my mood. Usually, the affecting comes in the form of wearing a sassy outfit complete with bright colours - and in this case stripes - whereas reflecting is usually something comfy if I’m not feeling one hundred percent.

I think what we wear absolutely has an impact on how we feel. Granted, it can't work miracles but it could change your attitude slightly which means you might have a better day or make someone else smile when they see you in your bright yellow jacket.

What do you think? Do you dress to improve your mood?

Photos by Kaye Ford