Fashion tends to get a bad reputation under the subject of mental health.
It might be seen as superficial, competitive or even guilty of perpetuating societal differences. I don’t disagree with any of this, fashion and the clothing industry have flaws which I can only hope are addressed and restructured. However, here I wish to focus on the individual persons’ relation to fashion, clothes and self-presentation overall. How can we utilise these things to our advantage and possibly aid our mental wellbeing in the process?
Finding your get-up (again)
I’m sure that for many of us, the past couple of years have been spent predominantly in pyjama bottoms or sweatpants. If for you, that is not the case, I absolutely commend you.
With life beginning to resume once again, social lives picking up and professional prospects growing, now is the time to harness your inner Gok Wan and find what you enjoy wearing again. Chances are it could be a bit of a self re-evaluation. The pandemic has taken its toll on many aspects of our sense of self; for me, I don’t feel as expressive or bold as I was before, which has fed into how I present myself. Putting on my old clothes now feels odd, like I’m wearing someone else's wardrobe. So, to not overwhelm myself (and scare the shoppers at Tesco with a feather bowa), I have started slowly building my confidence again.
Do you like bright colours? Soft fabrics? Practical or eye-catching? Try it all out!
Why not do a silly fashion show for yourself? I won’t tell anyone, I promise.
Business in the front, party in the back
Sometimes a bit of structure with clothes can be useful. Just like a personal and professional mindset, a differentiation in clothing can help keep life organised and allow for a bit of mental clarity. Why not try organising your wardrobe into sections? For example, you could have: loungewear, exercise, workwear/professional and everything else. The trick here is to try and reduce overlap as much as possible. Using this method can help during mindfulness practises, as it creates boundaries between tasks and makes them easier to compartmentalise. So, if you are struggling to get tasks done, or to fully get the most out of things, or even to relax, try wearing something that makes you feel the part and it could help.
(I highly doubt) The devil wears Prada
You don't need a giant income to feel good about the way you present yourself. Trends and fast-fashion relay the idea that you must have the next best thing all the time, but honestly the old saying ‘quality over quantity’ is absolutely true in this context.* Many of these fast-fashion brands use cheap and over-produced materials that can often break or change shape after one or two washes - leaving you with something that doesn’t really look like what you originally bought. Charity shops are a golden ticket for finding good quality bargains. When sifting through, try looking for reliable brands or checking the material of the item: you might hit the jackpot and find something high-quality and stylish for a fraction of the price.
*However, there are always valid reasons many people regularly use fast-fashion. These may be to do with convenience or working with a limited budget - for example, a family with a low income.