MOOD & FASHION: IS THERE A CONNECTION?

02/25/2014

undefinedundefinedundefined Dr. Seuss said, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out.”  As you can see, I think my socks speak for themselves or do they? If my socks could talk what would they say? How might they describe themselves? Do my sock choices have anything to do with my personality and/or mood? This leads me to wonder about the connection between mood and fashion.  Professionally, I can see how mood and fashion are connected. For example, during a depressive episode, hygiene and appearance might become neglected, but  when symptoms remit, grooming and image are improved. Personally, I know when I look good, I feel good and vice versa.

It was found through a reader’s poll via Health.com (2004) that our clothes can impact how we see things and that how we feel can determine what we wear. So, when you’re feeling down, one way to feel better is to put on something that makes you feel and look good. Even if you lack the desire to get out of those drabby sweat outfits, I would encourage you to dress in something that you like and that makes you feel good. Even if you don’t have any place to go, dressing in something that you like and that makes you feel good can have a positive impact on your mood. Not only can this boost your mood, but also the color choice in what you wear can make a difference. For example, blue is calming, red can make us feel sexy, green is restorative, and bright colors like hot pink, canary yellow and yellow orange, are considered happy colors (Natural Health, 2004).  

Nolan, Dai, and Stanley (1995) found that those with depression were more drawn to black and brown colors, which may help explain why many people who are depressed are more drawn to these colors. Some of this can be explained by the change in seasons. During the colder months, what colors do you see most? Typically, we often see black, brown, and grey colors. Have I told you I really dislike the winter months; wearing these colors for months on end would make anyone feel down.  However, last season, retail had changed this up by mixing in a lot of color because color can improve our mood and when we’re feeling happier we shop more. On the flip side, being down and depressed can also be a catalyst for shopping.                

Retailers and many others say, when in doubt go shopping! I can identify with this saying and I’m sure you can too. You may have also heard of the words, “retail therapy.” Ah, now I got your attention! Essentially, retail therapy is a behavior of purchasing gifts for oneself or others with the goal of improving ones mood. Ataly & Maloy (2011) found that retail therapy has a positive impact on mood. That is the good news; however, if you’re finding yourself participating in retail therapy often, and your bank account and your partner are very unhappy, it may be beneficial to consult with a licensed mental health practitioner to understand what is driving this behavior. Your bank account and your relationship may thank you later. 

Recently, I read a few articles that made me think about the relationship between mood and fashion. According to Health Magazine, in February 2013, Indiana was ranked #2 as one of the top 10 most depressing states. Then, in April 2013, the IndyStar.com, reported that Indiana was ranked as the tenth worst-dressed city in the nation. Although we can’t say here that one thing causes another, we can say that it’s obvious that the connection between psychology of mood and fashion exists (Funtes & Quiroga, 2009)

So, what does this all mean? This means that we need to be aware of how we’re feeling, especially if we’re feeling depressed. When we feel depressed, we care less how we look. So, when you’re feeling down, wear something that makes you look and feel good! If you can add some color, particularly brighter color to your outfit of the day even better; we know that this can help improve one’s mood. If you’re skeptical, give it a whirl the next time that you’re feeling down and knock someone’s socks off!

Disclaimer: Depression is a serious condition and if you’re experiencing a depressed mood and/or a loss of interest for two weeks or longer, consult a licensed mental health practitioner.


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Nicole Calloway On February 26, 2014 at 1:08 PM
I can very much relate to what you are saying. I woke up yesterday feeling bleck; the weather is really starting to take its toll on Hoosiers at this time of the year. I felt exhausted, unmotivated, uninspired. However, I decided to run yesterday after I got out of school, and what a world of difference it made!! My energy and mood feel lifted today. Also, I have recently started showering in the evenings before bed, and just throwing my hair up in a bun to go to work the next day (I work in a very isolated setting, and do not work directly with the public). However, this morning I decided to get up and dry my hair. There could be a connection with the physical activity I had yesterday, and my mood today. A woman always feels better when her hair is did = ) Dr. Grant, you are the best!!
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