My mum visited me this week from the wilds of Hertfordshire.Â Uncharacteristically, she was sporting lipstick, mascara and eye shadow upon her face because she has recently discovered thisÂ makes her feel better. She is not alone it seems; research suggests that rather than wear makeup to attract attention, women do itÂ to manipulate the image of themselves they present, ie a positive imageÂ of greater self confidence, self esteem, emotional stability and health. Â This is because cosmetic useÂ boosts the wearer’s view of theirÂ own attractiveness, confidence, status, femininity and sexiness, earning potential and professional class.
The clothesÂ we wear andÂ how we feel are also linked. In Mind What You Wear: The Psychology of Fashion,Â Prof Karen Pine (also,Â as it happens from Hertfordshire – the University) explores the concept ofÂ â€˜enclothed cognitionâ€™, the power of clothes to alter the psychological state of the wearer.
Pine argues that the clothes we choose to wear generally reflect our mental stateÂ (depressed women, for exampleÂ are more likely to wear ‘baggy’ tops), and discussesÂ whether mood could be improved by dressing differently. Â ‘We don’t know’ yet, she says, but what we wear can help maintain positive mental states – there are clear links to dressing up and feeling confident, for example. She suggests using clothes as a good way of getting out of a rut (which is part of her wider Do Something Different Programme):
- Dress to impressÂ Dress as if youâ€™re off to a â€˜bigâ€™ event. Smarten up and glam it up, whatever youâ€™re doing.
- Wear the oldest item in your wardrobeÂ You loved it once , why not wear it again? Dig deep and resurrect an old favourite.
- Try a new colour comboÂ Put your most colourful items together in a unique, clashy, zingy combination: go forth and brighten up the world.
- Stand outÂ Experiment with wearing a quirky hat, odd shoes, a big bow tie, a veil or a temporary tattoo . One small change could change your day.
I feel mostly silly and uneasy dressing up when I am not in the mood (and I am rarelyÂ in the mood), so am sceptical about trying any of the above but I will, in the interests of Depression Lab research. Â Unless any kind volunteers out thereÂ would like to have a go instead?