Have you ever felt your mood change based on what you wear? Are you more productive in an outfit you like? You're not alone - a group of researchers in Queensland, Australia are studying how people use clothes to change or mask their moods. Women especially attach emotions to clothes: an outfit associated with a bad time elicits negative feelings, while a garment that was worn during a special time can draw out a smile. We've all heard the phrase, "when you look good, you feel good." Why is this?
Dr. Alastair Tombs, a lead researcher from the University of Queensland compared clothing to a "photograph," reminding us of memories that bring up certain emotions. I would never dream of getting rid of my Beastie Boys tee since I met my husband while wearing it. But, Dr. Tombs believes that people sometimes use fashion as a "scapegoat." Rather than direct negative feelings towards yourself, it's easier to project bad feelings on an object. Several years ago, I found a floral dress on clearance that I thought was super-cute. One of the first times I wore it, I went on an interview for a job that ended up being a bust. Assuming that was a fluke, I wore it again and got unceremoniously dumped by the person I was dating. The final chance I gave it was on the day my grandfather passed away. Needless to say, that dress wound up in the trash. Very therapeutic, I might add.
On the flip side, a 2008 study found that just thinking of certain items in a wardrobe can give you a boost in confidence. For example, if you have an outfit that consistently earns you compliments, the mere sight of it can elevate your mood. Wearing it again gives you a double-boost: not only do you feel good that day, you also have the residual uplifting feelings from past admiration you received in the outfit. My green vintage dress seems to be a guaranteed-compliment generator, which is probably why I wore it so much last season! On hard days, though, wearing a cute outfit may not change your mood significantly. Nevertheless, it can give others the appearance that you feel happy. The 2008 study report refers to clothing as both a source of "pride" and "anxiety." (Word.)
I definitely feel more efficient, happier, and all-around-better when I'm wearing something that I think looks good on me. What do you think? For more info, read this article.