Have you ever noticed that instant bout of joy you feel when you dress up in a bright, airy dress? While the bright, airy dress could be a pair of jeans for someone or a cute top for someone else, the fact remains that clothing and fashion have an effect on your daily life as well as mood. We decided to explore why that happens and how we can dress to feel better even when we’re not.
While the reasons we explore in this article serve as a common understanding of how clothing affects one’s mood, it may not prove accurate for everyone. “It’s not a one size fits all concept. And that’s the thing with all concepts or even those vaguely associated with psychology, because the nature of the work is very individualistic and unique,” says Ms. Mehezabin Dordi, clinical psychologist at Sir H.N. Reliance Foundation Hospital.
Don’t let the complicated term intimidate you, because enclothed cognition is a simple concept. The term essentially refers to ‘the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer's psychological processes’. For example, wearing a police uniform can make you feel authoritative as well as more responsible, depending on what you perceive police personnel as. Simply put, being aware of what you are wearing along with the physical attributes of the clothes, in this case, the structured, clean details of a uniform, collectively affect the way a person may behave and feel.
This also explains why one would be a lot more influenced to exercise after putting on workout clothes as opposed to wearing casual ones. In the same way, to feel more confident, putting on sharp formals can make you feel more confident and productive on an important work day.
Studies over the past decades show how certain colours stimulate positive emotions whereas some symbolise negative ones. One of the first such studies was one by Goethe (1810), who, in his research titled Theory of Colours, linked colour categories like red and yellow to emotional responding (e.g., warmth, excitement). In studies by Lockley (2006), Lehrl (2007), and many others, participants exposed to blue (relative to yellow) illumination reported greater mental alertness. Whereas, in studies by Hill and Barton (2005), Hagemann (2008), Ilie (2008) and others, taekwondo competitors wearing red outperformed those wearing blue. While different people may relate to various colours with varying perspectives subjective to their experiences and personality, a majority of people associate bright hues like yellow and red with positivity and confidence, whereas colours like grey are associated with a dull mood.
Ever wondered why a certain outfit or piece of clothing makes you feel good every time you wear it? All that is thanks to the memories you associate with it. So, that outfit that you wore during a happy occasion, or the one that earned you a lot of confidence the last time you wore it, can draw you towards it more often than not when you need a boost in mood or are simply having a happy day.
In 2014, researchers from Harvard Business School carried out a study, according to which, participants carrying a heavyweight backpack experienced increased feelings of guilt, which led to favouring guilt-reducing choices like choosing boring tasks over fun ones and light snacks over ones high on the calorie bar. This was because the physical feeling of weight is often associated with guilt by a majority of people.
Do you also opt for different outfits according to your mood? Tell us in the comments below!
Images used for representational purposes only.