In this day and age, fashion is present everywhere. Fashion is in shop windows, in magazines, in the streets and even in the gym. Despite the cliché of beauty being in the eye of the beholder, clothing is important in portraying and developing confidence.
Many designers feel that the fashion they create can actually help make the world a happier place. As Miuccia Prada said: “When I design and wonder what the point is, I think of someone having a bad time in their life. Maybe they are sad and they wake up and put on something I have made and it makes them feel just a bit better.“
What one wears is not only closely entwined with emotion, but it can also reveal pieces of a person’s character. As designer Marc Jacobs wisely put it: “To me, clothing is a form of self-expression – there are hints about who you are in what you wear.”
Clothes have a huge effect on how we feel and act. In one study, women in prison who were given expensive lingerie immediately began acting noticeably nicer and felt more confident. By the end of the month they were bubbly and cheerful in comparison to other women in prison who were either becoming depressed or angry and bitter.
In another study, women who were sad or depressed gravitated towards clothing they believed was easier to wear, such as sweatpants, sweatshirts and baggy jeans. Meanwhile, happier women tended to wear their favourite dress or put more effort into their appearance to match their mood.
This correlation between mood and clothing is likely present because baggy clothes aren’t flattering in portraying one’s body or life. Although throwing in the towel fashion-wise seems like an easier alternative when one is upset, putting effort towards developing one’s style is actually easier in the long run. Style development gives one a physical confidence to take on the world that plain sweatpants can never give.
Style can also affect how we act based on our preconceptions about certain pieces. In a study by Northwestern University, two groups of people were given white lab coats. The first group was told that it was a doctor’s coat, and the second group was told it was a painter’s smock. All participants were given the same white smock and performed the same tasks, but those who were told they were wearing a doctor’s coat ended up being more careful and attentive.
Ultimately, spending a little extra time deciding what to wear makes a huge difference in our lives that goes far beyond what one sees in the mirror. Style affects the way we treat ourselves and changes the way others treat us. Honing a style based on adventurous, high quality pieces is far from a vain enterprise. The pursuit of fashion is a way of life in which you, the wearer, show to others that you are worth far more than that tragic £6 Snuggie you bought on Amazon.