We tend to think about our chosen fashion styles as reflective of our inner selves. Our mood and our confidence can all be communicated to others using the fashion styles we choose to wear. While it’s important to bear this in mind, the link between style and mood isn’t always quite as simple as this.
The fact is that style doesn’t only reflect your mood. It also affects it. Seriously, there’s an entire social scientific study about it. Those with bigger brains than me have dubbed this phenomenon enclothed cognition. (Cognition refers to the mental process of your brain, so the term refers to the way in which wearing clothes affects this.)
So we shouldn’t only be looking at our fashion choices as a means of showing off or communicating certain things. We should be looking within ourselves to find out how certain styles affect our confidence, mood, and health.
There are many obvious ways in which your style affects your mood. Perhaps the biggest example of this is in self-confidence. With the right stylistic materials, we can boost our self-confidence tremendously. We can look into smooth jackets, tight tops, cool cologne bottles, and new haircuts to improve our self-esteem. But when we talk about style and self-confidence, it’s usually in a negative way. We tend to think about people whose stylistic choices are determined by their lack of self-confidence. (For example, people who don’t feel like they have a “bikini body” and thus avoid wearing them.)
So many of the elements of your chosen style will affect your thinking throughout the day. The colors you wear can create certain psychological links to positive or negative elements. Fitting into a pair of skinny jeans that we weren’t able to before helps cement the amazing feat of losing a bunch of weight. These sorts of things are why a lot of people refer to fashion choices as the wearing of “social armor”.
The effects of all of this shouldn’t be overestimated, however. Let’s consider someone who’s depressed. In a state of severe depression, people tend to look a lot more unkempt. From all of this research, are we supposed to think that by taking care of how they look that they’ll feel better? Perhaps they will, marginally. But it’s not a powerful enough factor to overcome a mood disorder!
Still, the fact that what you choose to appear to others can affect your mood is undeniable and powerful.
So what exactly should we be taking away from all of this? We should be leaving with the idea that it’s important for us to feel happy in what we’re wearing. Perhaps it makes us feel happy to wear the latest fashion trends. Perhaps it fills us with confidence to buck the trend a little, or wear things that have been out of fashion for a decade. Maybe we only care about how comfortable something is. Regardless of the criteria we use, we should put a focus on how our fashion choices make us feel. If it makes us feel comfortable, happy, and confident, then that’s the most important thing!