In the last post we discussed how our clothing choices affect our mood, but what if we are not feeling our best selves; how does our mood affect the way we dress?
It’s easy to say, “just put on something nice and you’ll feel better”, but for some people, that’s much easier said than done. For some people battling depression, anxiety, trauma, or chronic illness, their mood may and will affect the way they dress, and it may not be so easy for them just to put on something that makes them feel better.
The Psychology Behind It
In a 2012 experiment, Dr. Karen Pine examined the way women were feeling, with what they chose to wear. “Clothing doesn’t just influence others, it reflects and influences the wearer’s mood,” Dr. Pine states.
In its simplest explanation, we see this exemplified by the work stylists’ onset of tv and film. They often use clothing to express in a non-verbal way the mood of the actor. Bad guys wear dark colors, happy people wear bright colors, innocence is projected by flowy dresses, the color white, and softness. As the viewer, we wouldn’t have any context clues about the character without the subtlety of the wardrobe.
So too in our day-to-day lives, are we making choices about who we are and what we are wearing by the mood that we are in. Particularly if we’re not feeling well, are battling depression and/or anxiety. Change in dress is often the first outward way to tell a significant change in someone, particularly in teenagers. Adolescent psychologists often advise parents to pay attention when they notice a sudden and drastic change in the dress of their teenager as an indicator of changes in mental state.
When Should We Be Concerned?
Chronic is referred to as anything lasting consistently for 2+ weeks. So as it relates to change in the wardrobe because of mental state, if it’s a one-off or something that the person does every so often, there probably isn’t any cause for alarm. Still check on your friend or family member and make sure they are doing ok if it is particularly out of their character, but for the most part, we can chalk it up to an isolated instance of just not feeling well.
If the change in dress is sudden, continually gets worse, and lasts for a period of time longer than a few days this may be cause for concern if there are no other factors present. So this makes sense if your friend is experiencing a breakup or just had surgery or lost a loved one. But if everything is ok as far as you know, and their appearance and change of dress changed out of the blue for no reason, pay attention to your friend, check in on them, and make sure they’re ok. It could be the warning signs of a bigger problem.
Well, when we are sad or don’t feel better, we prefer to stay in our homes more, and avoid going out as much, some people may have naturally changed their standard level of dressing well because of that. The change in appearance we see in some people could just be from the change of environments and situations. If this is the case, once they return to their regular activities, their style of dress should return too.
What Should We Do?
If you feel comfortable that your friend is just having a bad day or three, then just be a friend. Listen to their concerns and make sure they really are ok. Let them know that you are there for them if they need to talk.
If you suspect this is something more serious be it emotionally or physically, do all of the same as above, but you may want to get professional help to make sure that there isn’t something happening that is out of your control and expertise.
In the last year, we’ve been in our homes more, and not going out as much, some people may have naturally changed their standard level of dressing well because of that. The change in appearance we see in some people could just be from the change of environments and situations. If this is the case, once they return to their regular activities, their style of dress should return too.
5 Common Ways Our Mood Affects Our Dress
a. Not Feeling Well:
One of the most common ways our mood affects our dress is observed when we’re not feeling well, especially if we have a stomach ache, stomach cramps, or migraine. Dr. Pine observed in her study that women, in particular, will opt for baggy clothes when not feeling physically well. Particularly baggy tops, baggy jeans, baggy sweats.
Which makes so much sense, if your stomach hurts, why would you want to wear anything tight on it? But what about when we’re not feeling well emotionally? What can we expect to look like in those moments?
Often when we’re sad or just feeling down, we’re more likely to seek things that make us feel cozy. We’re seeking comfort because we’re not comfortable. This is where you’re going to want to wear your super stretchy leggings and a super soft sweatshirt or oversized cardigan. Bonus points if you put on your tube socks, popped some popcorn, and grabbed your favorite glass of red.
When we’re happy we often feel more bold. So similar to how the stylist on the tv show will dress the character in bold colors, we too in real life, often wear bold colors, bold makeup, or bold prints when we are feeling on top of the world. Wear that dress that you may only wear on vacation. Why not, you’re over the moon, right?
Frustration is an interesting emotion and we probably became frustrated throughout the course of our day as opposed to starting the day frustrated. If you experience feelings of frustration throughout the day, once you’re able to, change out of the clothes you’re in and put on something that makes you feel better. It may be smart to change into workout clothes so you can work off that frustration and get some endorphins which are guaranteed to make you feel a bit better. Pick the workout outfit that makes you feel you’re most fit, it’s only going to help you crush your workout more.
Is your stomach in knots because of something you’re anticipating? A big move? Graduation? Your meeting with your boss? Research shows that dressing in the opposite way to how you feel in this scenario may be to your benefit. So put on something that makes you feel confident and powerful. It’s a great way to counteract your nerves. This is a great time to pull out that power suit or pencil skirt and blouse you’ve been saving for a special occasion. Also, printed suits or suits in bold colors are in right now, so this is the perfect occasion to wear it if you have it!
When we’re tired, we don’t have patience and can’t be bothered. Opt for those tried and true pieces in your closet that never fail you, AND make you feel comfortable. Easy dresses or wide-leg trousers for example are great options for choices that make you look pulled together and feel comfortable.
Regardless of how you’re feeling there are ways to make sure that it’s nothing too serious and outfits to choose to help you through the situation, help you to celebrate the situation, or help you to be your best in the situation.