Longevity and the Psychology of Clothes

With spring around the corner, I’ve been making an attempt at wardrobe/sewing project planning. As I took a hard look at my plans, I realized I tend to make clothes that don’t suit my current, much more casual, lifestyle. While pondering this discovery, I received an email newsletter from the Accidental Icon titled, “Starting a Longevity Practice No Matter What Age You Are.” Lyn listed four practices she plans to adopt to increase her lifespan and improve her quality of life, including dressing to feel better.

I decided to research the impact our clothing can have on our mental health and came across the term “enclothed cognition,” coined by researchers in 2012, to describe the effect clothing has on the way we think, feel, and function. In the world of psychology, it is now common knowledge that what we wear impacts our brain and can influence our mood, emotions, and performance.

So, should we dress to match how we feel or how we want to feel? Camay Abraham (Masters in Applied Psychology in Fashion, London College of Fashion) recommends dressing for how you want to feel and be seen. When you do, others are influenced in the way they see and treat us, which can impact our well being in a positive way. To achieve the desired effect, however, keep these things in mind:

  • You must still be true to yourself and at least partially embody whatever it is you want to convey.
  • Be self-aware when you are matching your attire to your need, selecting clothing that will be successful in creating the feelings you want.
  • The disparity between how you feel and want to be seen can’t be too large. There are times when you may need to give in to your feelings and dress to match how you already feel.

My research taught me a few lessons. I want more color in my wardrobe, but if I’ve gravitated to my trusted neutrals lately, that’s okay. They are soothing and that’s what I’ve needed this past year. I can introduce more color gradually with the coming spring, coaxing a more optimistic outlook in the months ahead. If my garments are a little more polished than “covid casual,” that’s a good thing, too!