“The art of fashion is all about creating stories and emotions” according to J. Stanescu. It is hardly surprising then that fashion, in contemporary society, is not only capable of expressing an individual’s emotion, but also can have a powerful effect on the mood that we, as consumers, experience.
Clothes have the remarkable capability of reflecting your inner state to the outside world. On conducting my own investigation, I found that almost unanimously, morning clothing choice was pretty much dependent on mood. Not weather, practicality, nor flattering fits.
There has been many suggestions to pull on those coloured clothes we associate with happiness, even if feeling down (e.g. R. Weaver, 2012) due to the strong link observed between clothing and mood state. Psychologists have shown that colour affects our mood and that humans have used “unusually bright colours … for their emotional effects” (D. Evans, 2001) thousands of years back.
You might wear brighter colours to radiate positivity, or sport skin-tight clothing to scream out just how confident you’re feeling that day. On the flip side, you might be feeling terribly antisocial one day. I mean, sometimes I wish I could wander out with ‘fuck off’ plastered across my forehead. But that just isn’t socially acceptable. So I let my clothes do the talking. I will be unashamedly dressed-down – hair visibly knotty, half-hearted make-up. Yep, no-one’s gonna bother trying to talk to me in this state.
Similarly, there’s nothing like black on black to discourage aimless small talk. I can’t help but wonder where the stigma of black equals depressed began. Perhaps we subconsciously associate it with funerals: death, loss, sorrow. On the other hand, black is notoriously slimming. It may be the case that the individuals with a uniform of black might be of a more self-conscious disposition, thus typically less happy in themselves. Having said that, I would argue that black is the fashionista’s chic, go-to choice. Maybe it is the strict emotionless-ness of black. I stumbled upon the idea that to be fashionable – I mean really fashionable – you almost have to seem emotionless. The true fashionista must always have a blasé demeanour, complete with sulky expressions and ‘whatever’ hair flicks.
But the fact colour might say so much about you can be manipulated for your benefit. Lady in red? Reckon she just fancied floating about in a rose-hued dress that day? Nah. I reckon she was on the prowl. You see, colour can be used as a tool to bring positivity into your life, ladies. Much research has found men much more sexually attracted to women dressed in red. Worth a shot, right?
The issue with all of this emotional involvement is that emotion seems to ultimately drive the fashion industry. Moreover, the fashion industry has latched on and appeals to these, often subconscious, emotions. Illustrious advertising draws out feelings of lust, need, desire. Although our initial contentment upon purchasing said item might give us temporary positive relief, this is soon substituted by uncontrollable jealousy of that coat or that dress. My research saw me finding countless blogs that encouraged eliciting such jealousy in your friends, even amongst young schoolgirls. Such unconstructive emotions only lead to a downwards spiral of refusal to appreciate what we have and ultimate superficiality. This, of course, is the extreme end of the scale, but it can’t be ignored that clothing can have such an unhealthy impact on our mind-set.
This is not only in terms of self-esteem issues, but also can lead to the development of irrational, addictive and even compulsive shopping behaviour. I reckon there definitely can be too much of a good thing, where the positive effect of great clothes can go so far as to take hold of us. I for one have turned into a green-eyed monster when someone bought those shoes that I absolutely, explicitly stated that I was going to buy. As a generally rational being, it concerns me how I can become so flippant, on such a trivial matter. But who is this unconstructive behaviour helping? Such negative emotions certainly won’t steal her shoes and award them to me. Nor will they make me feel happier about the whole ordeal. I guess it’s just unfortunate the way our mind works, but, as Charles Swindoll claimed, “life is 10% what happens to [you] and 90% of how [you] react to it”. Don’t bother with negative emotions; they will only poison you, no-one else.
Words: Lizi Woolgar
Illustration: Tegan Iversen