You are what you wear? How your outfit psychologically affects you

If you’re ready to go out of comfort zone and make changes on your image, subtle changes are the easiest and safest to make

Mimi Raad
Mimi Raad - Special to Al Arabiya English
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Your outfit may alter how you approach and interact with the world. Your outfit is a social armor. What we wear has power over our mood and, of course, others.

You may throw on an outfit without much thought in the morning, but your choice is strongly affected by your mood.

Usually the item of casual wear in almost everyone's wardrobe -denim jeans - is what most people wear when depressed. In a low mood a woman is also much more likely to wear a baggy top.

What a woman chooses to wear is heavily dependent upon her emotional state.

Psychologists see a strong link between clothing and mood and suggest we should put on clothes that we associate with happiness, even when feeling low.

If your brain links Miuccia Prada or Phoebe Philo’s collections with powerful, intelligent women, you’re likely to take on those attributes when you wear that Prada pleated skirt or Céline jacket.

So your closet may not be frivolous after all, it contains so many options to boost your energy, it helps you show the best versions of yourself.

People make their assessments in the first few seconds of meeting one another. Your clothes give impressions about your social aptitude, confidence and flexibility.

My advice for you when you're getting dressed for work, take a few seconds to consider the psychological impact of what you're wearing, how it fits with where you're going, and who you're with.

If you’re ready to go out of comfort zone and make changes on your image, subtle changes are the easiest and safest to make. I suggest playing with colors and accessories: Layering colorful tops under your usual jacket, sunglasses can create a trendy look, belts can add variety to a look and accentuate the body in certain ways, and shoes are also another great accessory to add some punch; I personally love oxford flats.

There’s no need to buy a complete new wardrobe, little add-ons make a difference. The key word to all these changes is consistency. If you consistently look put together, polished and sophisticated, you will feel systematically confident, act accordingly and people around you will perceive you in that way.

A study from Northwestern University examined a concept called “enclothed cognition.” Researchers define it in their report as “the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes,” meaning what your clothes are saying to you, not about you and how they make you feel. “When you dress in a certain way, it helps shift your internal self,” explained Clinical psychologist Dr. Jennifer. Baumgartner.

Enclothed cognition gives scientific proof to the idea that you should dress not how you feel, but how you want to feel. Which clothes make you feel powerful? Sexy? In control? Wealthy? The clothes you choose are sending a message to those around you, but also to you, yourself.

Outfit choices are made to match mood and as a form of self-expression, but also clothing is used to control or mask emotions. And that’s exactly what I personally do! And here are my tips for you to create a “happy wardrobe”:

• Wear clothes that fit beautifully and feel physically good.
• Remove things from your wardrobe with negative associations.
• Donate clothes that no longer fit.
• Stop buying eclectic items when shopping. Focus on outfit shopping so that you have clothes that co-ordinate.
• Detox your wardrobe twice annually – once per season.
• Buy only colors that flatter you.
• Don’t buy outfits that are out of your comfort zone, you won’t wear them.
• Focus on your assets and hide your weak points.

Not only are we what we wear, but we become what we wear. Think about that!

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