At midlife we often witness a shift in the way we relate to our clothing: it’s less about “how does this look” and more about “how does this make me feel”. And these days, as we emerge from lockdown, mood-boosting patterns, colours and slogans appear even more crucial for our well being.
In particular, The Financial Times has reported increasing demand for feel-good fabrics and comfy clothes with a wave of tactile creations, including feathery embellishments, stretch silken bodywear, and plush, fluffy textures. What’s more, designers are in tune with the fact that women will look for opportunities to dress up again but without wanting to lose the feeling of comfort and luxury.
But can we really dress ourselves happy? The idea of instilling joy through what we wear is not new. It’s called ‘dopamine dressing’ and has long been the subject of psychological research explaining how our clothes can make us feel positive.
When we feel good in what we are wearing, we tend to be more confident – says behavioural psychologist and author of The Psychology of Fashion, Carolyn Mair-. When we are confident, we are able to exert influence through our confidence alone. When we feel good, we are likely to be perceived as looking good too, as our posture, voice and other nonverbal aspects will be more positive.
Of course, colours are a great way to lift our spirits and boost our moods in an instant, but ultimately, dopamine dressing is whatever makes us feel good. The most important thing is to have fun with it. In the end, fashion is wearable poetry. You wear clothes not only to look good or flattering but to exude certain complex vibes and messages that correspond to how you feel or how you identify that day.
According to fashion psychologist Shakaila Forbes-Bell, “People experience changes in their emotional state with a change in their style of dress. When you wear clothes that make you feel confident, happy and empowered, they can act as armour, shielding you from negative feelings and experiences. Some studies have even found that clothes carry a tension release dimension, providing wearers with a dose of escapism that positively impacts their mental wellbeing during particularly trying times.”
As confidence levels spike with age, let your wardrobe reflect that self-esteem. Above all, keep dressing to empower yourself. Impressing others is a secondary concern.