Getting dressed every morning is something we all do, choosing what to wear and deciding how we would like to present ourselves is part of our everyday routine. Many of us often underestimate the impact our sense of style has on how others perceive us, as well as how it makes us feel. It is evident that fashion provides us with a tool to express ourselves and our identity to the world. However, this can go both ways, since fashion can also be something which we hide behind, conforming to trends that we follow for the sake of it, due to fear of judgement. All in all, I think we can agree, fashion has a considerable affect on our mental health and wellbeing, both for the better and worse.
Hiding behind our clothes
Although fashion has contributed positively to so many of our lives, it also has its downsides. The fashion industry has unfortunately given rise to problems such as body image and fear of self-expressionism, both of which have an adverse affect on our mental health.
Brands & Body Image - Brands in the clothing industry often showcase unrealistic beauty standards which we as consumers then begin to normalise, leading us to critique our own facial and bodily features. Models and influencers are used by brands to flaunt their airbrushed skin, hairless bodies and 22 inch waist in the face of impressionable consumers. Such normalised unattainable standards of beauty go on to affect the way we as an audience view ourselves, particularly affecting the younger generation. This can then result in the development of body dysmorphia, eating disorders or general anxiety, all of which have risen due to the lack of diversity within the fashion industry.
Following the leader - With the rise of social media, fashion trends are are coming and going quicker than ever, proving ever more difficult for people to keep their wardrobes updated. In particular the ease of fast fashion has allowed for consumers, especially those younger, to franticly buy and throw away clothes in order to keep up with the latest trends. The pressure on young people to keep up to date on these fashion trends is huge. People are too afraid to deviate from what we see being promoted on social media, they are anxious they will be judged based on their decision not to conform to societies standards of fashion.
However, the industry is changing, it is becoming more diverse and inclusive than ever before, giving normal people a chance to really reclaim fashion as a tool for self-expression. People are beginning to break through society's standards for beauty and normalise the fact that we are all unique. We shouldn't all dress the same and follow trends - this literally defeats the purpose of fashion.
We need to stop hiding and take back control!
Taking back control
Believe it or not, there is actual science behind the idea that clothes make us feel better. Wearing clothes we enjoy boosts our confidence and improves our mental wellbeing according to behavioural psychologist Professor Carolyn Mair. When we feel good in what we wear this not only positively affects our mental health, but the way we conduct ourselves also, our body language, voice and posture are all affected.
Clothes are also very closely associated with our emotions, when we wear clothes that empower us we feel more confident, which essentially acts as a protective barrier against negative feelings. Fashion can even come in handy when feeling anxious and tense, as studies have shown clothing can contain tension relieving dimensions. Even just re-wearing your favourite pieces can trigger happy memories, providing you with a boost of positive emotion when you need it most.
At the core of fashion lies self-expression, our uniqueness as individuals is what should make us happy. Dress how you want to dress, use fashion to your advantage, as a way of coping and feeling happy. Try not to worry about the pressures of following trends and don't be afraid to 'dress outside the box'. Be confident, start new trends, dress for yourself and no-one else.
The important thing to remember is that you have control. Only you can make yourself feel truly happy. So, why not start by generating happiness through your own taste in fashion.