Deliberate Dressing

 

If one is to consider the frivolity of clothes, then consider we live our livesin clothes” Keenan, 2001

 

Ajax Lee
Photo credit: Ajax Lee

 

Who remembers those little paper dolls with the tab clothes? They would come in a book and you would cut or pop them out and fold the little paper tabs over their shoulders and around their impossibly tiny waists to make sure your carefully crafted ensemble was befitting your dolls plans for the day and their mood. We used to take so much time and care, considering and choosing what the doll should wear that day; tennis skirt perhaps if she was feeling in a sporty mood, or glittery party dress if she was feeling a little showy and ostentatious that day, (those who are too young to remember paper dolls 1) I envy you 2) Google it 3) Insert Barbie/ Ken/ or Bratz equivalent.)

How many of us can say that we take as much time, care and consideration with our own dressing on a day-to-day basis, not just when we’re going “out, out”? Granted, as adults we don’t have as much free time as we had as kids for such frivolous things (no judgment if you still like to dress dolls) or to ponder life’s big questions e.g. If Sabrina can cast spells, why does she still do her own homework? But I want to think with you for a moment, and question, is taking time to consider what we put on our bodies to face the day ahead really frivolous?

How many of us have gotten dressed in the morning, pulling and dragging on the first moderately decent clean thing we find and running out of the door or have had the experience of being out somewhere and wearing an outfit or item, that didn’t quite fit, or you didn’t feel wholly comfortable in? How did you feel? Compare that to how you feel when you have worn something you are happy, comfortable, and feel good in.

 

Pile of clothes

 

Whether you think yourself a fashionista or not what differentiates us from other species (as well as having Netflix) is that we dress. It is something, unless you’re a nudist, that we can’t avoid. So why not positively engage with dress and take charge.

I say over and over again, how we feel affects what we wear, and what we wear affects how we feel. If we continuously wear things we’re not comfortable or confident in, it can impact on our mood, self-esteem and ultimately our well-being. When we dress carelessly, it sends out a message of lack of self-care to the world and more importantly promotes feelings of being uncared for within ourselves. How many times have you said or heard a person say, “I just don’t have time to dress like I used to” or “I have more important things to do/worry about”. But we are important, and few moments aren’t going to hurt or take away from anyone. In psychological terms wearing clothes, you are happy in can promote something called hedonic well-being or hedonic happiness, also known as the feel-good factor. It’s the same little buzz of happiness you get, if you’re anything like me, from eating a slice (or two) of your favourite cake or watching a good movie (Magic Mike 2 anyone).

 

By all means, this DOES NOT MEAN spending hours getting ready each day, unthinkingly following all the latest trends (I’m sorry, I just can’t get on board with this dad trainer trend) or maxing out your credit cards to buy a new wardrobe. But just take a few moments in the morning to consider yourself, check in with yourself, and ask, “what do I WANT to wear today?” Dress for your day. Dress deliberately.

 

Suggested reading

Hefferon, K. (2013). Positive psychology and the body: The somatopsychic side to flourishing. Maidenhead, United Kingdom: Open University Press.

Welcome to The Fashion Psychologist

Welcome to the Fashion Psychologist; your one stop shop for all things fashion psychology related. Here I will share easy to read, accessible summaries of academic research relating to fashion psychology from a range of publications; reviews of topical events; and share my views, from a psychological perspective on goings on in the world of fashion, beauty and media.

In the last few years fashion psychology has grown from a small burgeoning field to one that is becoming widely recognised. Fashion, retail and the media are paying more and more attention to the emotional, cognitive and generally psychological implications of the fashion world on individuals and society as a whole. Only last month Elle UK published an article entitled “9 women on how they use fashion to feel empowered: You don’t need a costume to be a real life wonder woman”. Perhaps unwittingly, what they were discussing here was the psychology of fashion; the link between what we wear and how we feel, behave, and even how we think.

In 2014 Professor Carolyn Mair launched the world’s first fashion psychology programme; including the psychology for fashion professionals MA, and the applied psychology in fashion MSc, both at the University of Arts London’s, London College of Fashion. Since then, the programme has seen three cohorts graduate and go off into a range of diverse and exciting roles such as fashion marketing, buying, styling and design; taking with them their newly acquired psychological knowledge. Dawnn Karen in the US has taken fashion psychology and founded the Fashion Psychology Institute, which offers on line training in fashion psychology to those with undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications in psychology.

Fashion psychology is not a new field, and in fact was first coined in the late 19th century by American psychologist Henry James. It was also explored and discussed by Brit Thomas Carlyle, most poignantly in his seminal text , Sartor Resartus (1869).

Despite its longevity and newly found popularity, fashion psychology is yet to receive its own academic journal, meaning that fashion psychology students and enthusiasts alike must look to non-peer reviewed publications, pop-psychology articles and text books, which due to their nature, although still highly informative, become dated almost as soon as they are published. In any field of science, whether natural (biology, geology etc) or social (economics, psychology etc) current, up to date academic research is needed, to ensure the advancement of the field. Currently, research on clothing including colour, style, provocativeness, the impact of fashion images on self-esteem, and consumerism in fashion are published across a range of journals such as The Journal of Fashion and Marketing Management; The Journal of Social Psychology; Body Image; and The Journal of Problem Solving. Some of which require paid access.

Here, the fashion psychologist will bring ideas together, taking interesting articles relating to fashion psychology, from disparate sources and summarise and critically evaluate them; all in one place. Welcome to The Fashion Psychologist.