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The Tale Of Mental Health, Sneakers and Tailoring

Finding that glass slipper for our mental health

I have always been inherently interested in sneakers, but up until recently I hadn’t understood why. From being a child, looking across the racks of football boots within Sports Direct, thinking of which one suits my personality right to the re-opening of shops and finding those hidden gems, I have never been disappointed with a pair of shoes. Yet the same cannot be said for clothing. With the trends of fashion, I often find myself looking for the latest trend or thinking of the best vintage pieces that I could wear, yet whenever I make a purchase, the feeling of slipping into that new pair of shoes does not come to mind, there is always something wrong, which seemingly encroaches on my mental health. While perusing shops online or in person, the phrase, this model is 6 foot 1 and wears a size medium is everywhere to be seen. While I am of average height, average build, average pretty much everything, clothes are always too long or too wide or too thin. It is a rarity to put on clothing that simply just fits. There is a huge dissonance with how that model fits those clothes and how myself or anyone else does.

“Women identify with their clothes’ size and when this link is disrupted it causes discomfort and body dissatisfaction, which, in turn, contributed to rejection of the garment increasing the potential for the creation of waste.” [Taken from Fashion misfit: women’s dissatisfaction and its implications]

The 6 Foot 1 Model And Me

This perception of clothing runs deeper however, as I'm sure it does in womenswear, the clothes as seen online, in magazines and on your phone seem custom tailored to the model who is 6 foot 1 yet, even when my 6 foot 1 friends buy their clothes, they do not fit correctly. This issue is a universal one, with studies noting how ill fitting clothing leads to dissatisfaction. While everyone is obviously different in shape, size and height, this way of purchasing clothes must lead everyone to feel just slightly wrong.

Unlike sneakers where, providing you have the right size, they will fit and look as good on your ankle as anyone else’s, clothes need to fit for the dissonance between what you think you should, and what you actually look like, not to affect you. Clothes themselves have embedded meaning within them, your perception, other people’s perceptions and memories for example. These all add up to each item of clothing having an effect on your mental health, coined as enclothed cognition. Therefore if that new shirt you bought does not fit you right, it will negatively impact your wellbeing. The wardrobe of Mark Zuckerburg comes to mind when thinking about this subject, he exclusively wears the same style of t-shirt. The rationale behind this is to reduce the decisions that Mark has to make in the day, however the specific choice of that grey t-shirt must be because Zuckerburg feels most comfortable in it to start his day. Therefore the object’s enclothed cognition must be positive.

"Fashion is something that people enjoy and celebrate – it makes people feel good about themselves." [In an Interview with Kim Jones]

Mark Zuckerberg Is Inside My Phone And My Wardrobe

Polo Ralph Lauren have provided my “grey t-shirt” in the form of their long sleeve t-shirt. Having found it 10 years ago in an outlet, it is a shirt I know fits and through my own “enclothed cognition” it suits me. As a result of the fit of this top, it reduces the stress and anxiety that comes with clothing discomfort. This discomfort can lead to a lack of confidence. Yet, when it is removed from the situation, it allows oneself to have the best mental wellbeing that they can within their clothes. It therefore appears, and although it wasn’t, this long sleeve T-shirt was tailor made for myself. Sneakers, for those without disabilities, mimic this rarity and appear tailor made for the individual. While there is a difference in sizing across brands, the actual fit of the sneaker will look as good on anyone as anyone else. As previously stated, when it comes to boosting your mental state through fashion, it has been noted that comfort and your enclothed cognition, will give you the best mindset you can achieve through the garments you wear. Yet taking the examples of sneakers and the long sleeve t-shirt, they have impacts in a positive way because of their comfort and precise fit as to my subjective view. They are tailored to me. Therefore, the key to positive effects through fashion could be to tailor each individual piece to your body. It has been noted that tailoring, in the traditional Saville Row sense, can improve one’s confidence through having a perfectly fitting suit.

[On the topic of suits] “I feel confident. I feel put together. I feel great-looking." [Taken from an episode of Mad Men]

The Mental Healthy Fit

Consequently, the positive mental health attributes of having clothes perfectly fit each of us, could be attributed to ready to wear garments if they were tailored. While this can be expensive for certain items, tailoring is a growing market within high street fashion. Brands such as Moss and Levi’s offer services to ensure the items you purchase fit you as well as possible. However if money is an object, recent studies have shown that sewing can help to ease any mental anguish and so tailoring your own clothes would not only create confidence but help to alleviate other stresses within life. Lastly, as previously stated, tailoring helps to prevent the consumer from buying too many clothes; the dissatisfaction with the fit of a garment will result in its rejection by the consumer. Speaking from experience, the long sleeve t-shirts have lasted more than 10 years of repeated use. Consequently, reducing the amount of clothes bought by the average person would help to restrict emissions and waste from the fashion industry. With time, this would allow for cleaner air to breathe in our society, leading to a healthier body as well. Therefore if clothing takes a lesson from the comfort and feeling of that perfectly sized sneaker, it will lead to a better mental state, more confidence, a healthy earth and perhaps a healthier wallet.

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Oct 20, 2021


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