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What Are You Wearing? How Our Clothing Can Impact Our Mood

Shmuel Fischler, LCSW-C · September 16, 2020

Now that Labor Day has passed, common fashion advice says that white should stay at the back of your closet until Memorial Day and summer roll around again. However, does that decision to shy away from a color impact our mood? You might be surprised to learn that the clothing choices we make every day can impact our mood, emotions and attitude.

Can Clothes Change Your Mindset?

One study at Northwestern University aimed to see how clothing can impact our mood due to the associations that we have with specific items of clothing. In the study, they gave participants a white lab coat to wear. One group was told that the coat was a painter’s coat, while the other group was told that it was a doctor’s coat. The group that thought they were wearing a white doctor’s coat paid more attention to tasks and were more precise in their actions. While this isn’t necessarily a direct example of how clothing choices impact our emotions, it does show that what we are wearing has a real impact on our minds.

Can Clothes Impact Our Mood?

Another body of research was performed by Professor Karen Pine, and she investigated the link between how we feel and the clothes that we wear. In one study, 100 women were asked what they wore when they were feeling sad. A whopping 90% of them said that they avoided clothing that was more tight-fitting that made them feel confident, and over half said they would wear jeans and a loose-fitting shirt. Only 20% of women said they would choose loose clothing if they were feeling happy. In the same way that our clothing choices are influenced by how we feel, we can make unconscious associations between clothing and our feelings and inadvertently impact our mood.

Can Color Impact Our Mood?

Another aspect of clothing that some experts think could impact our mood is color. Blue is often associated with positive, calm thoughts and moods. Red, however, is a color strongly associated with power, courage or anger. White could be associated with purity, while black is often associated with sadness or darkness. While color psychology can be debatable, the links between color and our feelings can be strongly argued.

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https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2009/2009030.pdf