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Why You Should Still Get Dressed Every Day – The Importance of Clothing on Mental Health and Wellbeing

Why You Should Still Get Dressed Every Day – The Importance of Clothing on Mental Health and Wellbeing

In the current conditions, it is very normal to feel a lack of control over your surroundings. Comedic thoughts on social media have been widely shared about having spaghetti bolognese for breakfast, and changing out of their ‘day pyjamas’ into their ‘night pyjamas’ now that no rules apply. However, at a time when households are looking for ways to maintain normality and routine.

We recently chatted to Attitude Clothing, who want to take this opportunity to explain the surprising mental impacts of your clothing choices!

work from home

The examples below will look at studies and expert’s comments, and the link they suggest between style or colour of clothing and the impact on your mood. However, the most important aspect to take away from the article is to dress in the clothes that make you feel most comfortable or allow you to feel you are your best self.

One of the most widely referenced studies in regards to clothing and psychological state was conducted in 2012 at Northwestern University in the US, which popularised the term ‘enclothed cognition’. The phrase refers to the notion that when we wear clothes that have a specific meaning, it can actually influence our psychological state and behaviour.

The study looked at the use of professional clothing, in this case: a lab coat. They had previously found that a lab coat was typically associated in the mind with “attentiveness and carefulness”, therefore they wanted to test the psychological impact of wearing a lab coat for attention-related activities. They found through their experiments that:

  1. Where a lab coat was identified as a doctors coat but wasn’t worn, there was no increase in sustained attention
  2. Where a lab coat was not identified as a doctors coat but was worn, there was no increase in sustained attention
  3. Where a lab coat was identified as a doctors coat and worn, there was an increase in sustained attention

work from home

Consequently, the authors of the study stressed the importance of not only the clothing, but it’s symbolic meaning to the wearer for it to have an effect on their psychological state.

We are not suggesting that everyone starts ordering lab coats to wear around the house, but it does raise an interesting point for comparison. It has long been recommended that if you work from home you should still get dressed into your regular smarter attire before sitting down at a desk or table to simulate your office environment. However, in these unprecedented times when you might be at home but not currently working, it is important to keep in mind how your clothes can make you feel. 

In a time where both you, and your household, might be feeling confused and anxious about the restrictions and the increased time spent in the house, it may be the perfect time to dress in your smarter clothes and inspire a sense of authority. Putting on a blouse or some smart trousers might sound trivial, but if you associate these clothes with a feeling of structure and control then it is possible that wearing them now will support those feelings.

Alternatively, you may just want to feel that things are normal again, in which case dressing in clothes that you associate with a normal week, may help. Spending the week in loungewear is certainly comfortable, however, it would usually be associated with an event that has taken a toll on your body, such as sickness, moving house or an operation. Consequently, living in loungewear or nightwear for continued periods during the lockdown period can consolidate in your mind that this is an abnormal period and may induce feelings of anxiety or concern. 

A different aspect of the clothing to consider when dressing to feel positive is the colour or print of the garment. Jules Standish is a famous Colour Counsellor, known for her talks and ‘How not to wear black’ book. She talks about how seeing yourself wearing stimulating colours and prints can trigger a neurological response and subsequently boost your mood. Standish has previously cited the example that looking at bright colours can encourage the release of dopamine which can give you a lift in your mood.

Again, it is really important to consider that although there is a biological basis for her colour comparisons, the most important element is the significance that you have given your clothing. For example, if the outfit that always makes you feel happier and positive is a black dress or a dark navy jumper then absolutely stick with what makes you feel most secure and positive. The bright colour suggestion is aimed at people who naturally associate bright, vibrant colours with happy, positive thoughts. 

To summarise, there is evidence to suggest that if you dress in clothes that symbolise a specific meaning, these can help to influence your psychological state, which can alter your behaviour. Also, experts have suggested that the colour or print of clothing that you wear can make you feel differently too. However, we believe that most importantly you should dress in smart or casual clothing that makes you feel your best, whatever the colour may be. 


Images: Unsplash