Tag

Mental Wellbeing

Browsing

Another Fashion Month has arrived! With conversations around mental wellbeing taking hold in the fashion industry, many have began to wonder whether the seemingly never ending cycle of fashion shows are necessary in our modern climate. While there are many reasons why the industry can slow down and produce less, we’ve revealed the Psychological reason why that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon.

“Fashions fade, style is eternal” any fashion lover worth their salt is aware of that famous Yves Saint Laurent quote. But if style is to be coveted over seasonal and seemily temporary fashion collections then why do we salivate at the thought of more collections and more shows in more cities around the world? Aside from the big 4, buyers, editors, bloggers and stylists are heading to increasingly well attended events in cities such as Copehagen, Sao Paulo, Hong Kong and Florence. Aside from Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter, in the article ‘What the Hell Are Resort and Cruise Collections and Why Are They So Lucrative?’ Kam Dhillon illustrates how designers are having to hastily create lines throughout the year for Pre-Fall, Pre-Spring and Resort all to suit consumer demand. Oftentimes however, consumer demand and creativity do not go hand in hand. You may remember when Riccardo Tisci cited exhaustion as one of the reasons behind his shocking departure from Givenchy in 2017. Two years prior, when WWD asked ‘Is Fashion Heading for a Burnout?’, fresh off the heels of his departure from Balenciaga, Alexander Wang brought up the intensity that comes with having to churn out an increasing number of collections.

Specifically speaking about the show system, I think that’s something everyone is challenged with — the immediacy of things, and the idea of how to deliver in this system, where the attention span has become nonexistent.

If the mental wellbeing of designers isn’t enough to stop the seemingly unending fashion show cycle then many argue that social media would surely slow it down. When discussing whether Fashion Shows still matter Jenna Igneri, associate fashion and beauty editor for NYLON had this to say:

I think fashion shows are becoming more and more irrelevant as time goes on. Thanks to technology, anyone can view a fashion show or presentation from anywhere in the world—sometimes even live—so that glamorous feeling of exclusivity has long been lost.

Originally the concept of a fashion week presented as a clear solution for industry professionals to either report on or order from designers across the globe in a  convenient and timely manner. Now, as social media has afforded consumers the ability to live stream fashion shows around the globe from the comfort of their own homes many, like Igneri have come to wonder, are these large scale productions required every 4-6 months? While the true answer may be no, as fashion shows become increasingly consumer focused, psychological research indicates that they’re unlikely to go away anytime soon.

Every time a fashion show launches consumers are offered something new and that in itself is something simply too rewarding to pass up. Studies have found that we are hardwired to be attracted to novelty. In a study published in Neuron, researchers showed participants a series of images. After participants had become familiar with those images, researchers added a new “oddball” image. Measurements of participants brain activity revealed that the brain’s pleasure centres lit up when this new “oddball” image was introduced resulted in a flood of dopamine, the same chemical that is released when we eat good food and have great sex. In another study conducted at the University College London, participants were shown 4 cards one of which had a monetary reward. When the participant chose this card their brain’s pleasure processors lit up. After a time, researchers introduced new cards to participants. The result? Participants tended to choose novelty cards over the known money-making card. While this appears to be incredibly counter-intuitive, it clearly demonstrates the power that novelty has over us.

Shiny new things are not just for babies. If fashion consumers and industry professionals are no longer presented with the rush of dopamine that occurs every time they’re presented with a new show or collection then they will likely give up on the brand and look for pleasure elsewhere. Research into brain health also shows that regular experience of novelty is essential to a long and happy life. The next challenge that the industry faces is mitigating this need for novelty alongside the need for designers to maintain their mental wellbeing.

Advertisement

In order to fully discover the impact that fashion and clothing has on our wellbeing, we took one quote from psychiatry professor, Raphael Bonelli and we asked two established figures within the Mental Health Community three questions to delve deeper into the link between choice of dress and mental health.

What were your initial thoughts after reading this quote?

I found this quote insightful as it merges the worlds of the psychology of fashion with the psychology around mental health and wellbeing. I believe that the quote is powerful because it highlights those subtle changes that can be present for someone who may be experiencing difficult times and whose mental health is not at its best. It’s relatable. 

I think we all can think about times when we wanted to stay put in our pyjamas, not want to wear makeup or even drag on the nearest thing we can find when we aren’t feeling great. In contrast, we can think about when we make an extra special effort to dress well to impress, celebrate occasions or look great on 

holiday. Whether we like it or not, particular types of clothing does communicate many things about the person we are or the person we would like to be and it is all a part of our identity and how we feel about ourselves.

As a mental health advocate, would you say that the appearance of others, is always deemed as a cry for help?

Not always. It also depends on how well you know the person. For example, I have a friend that absolutely loves fashion and always dresses to impress and if suddenly one day I saw her dressed less than how she usually presents – I may ask questions because that would be so unlike her, but for another friend who isn’t too concerned about appearance, I may not ask that question.

I have also worked in mental health settings and hygiene and appearance can become one of the clear signs that someone is experiencing something. With some things like depression a sense of helplessness and loss of interest in activities can present itself in our appearance.

One may feel like there is no point in making an effort to present well as they may believe for example that they won’t be going out anyway or they don’t have any loved ones to impress or enjoy activities with anyway. The loss of motivation can impact on our appearance and how we value ourselves, but this isn’t always 100% true for everyone.

How do you think style of dress impacts people within the mental health field?

Working in the world of Psychology, I can say that from people I have come to know, some are very intentional in how they present themselves. Some choose to be simplistic and some have a set wardrobe of clothing – almost like a uniform. Myself, I choose to be 100% expressive in what I wear when working with clients and young people especially. I am aware that I represent something and I communicate something.

For me, it is important that people can relate to me and don’t feel closed off. I love to wear bright colours as I find it creates a warm atmosphere with people I work with. I find often people are suddenly relieved when they see me because they often have felt they were going to be met with someone who presents as very “authoritative” which can be a scary experience if it is your first time accessing mental health services. I think Psychology is such a person-centred profession and so professionals should just dress in a way that is suitable but also presents who they are as a person too.

 

❝Many people have no idea that their clothes can play such a significant role in their mood 

Astin Wangel-Brown is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Los Angeles. She has received specialized training as a Certified Couples and Family Therapist. She uses her expertise in relational therapy and evidence-based solution focused treatment in supporting clients to clarify, create and act on goals for desired change.

As a therapist, how much does the appearance of others impact your assessment of them?

There are so many social factors that impact appearance and how appearance is perceived that judging one’s mental health on appearance should only be one part of a much more involved assessment. With this being said, yes I might at least become curious about possible symptoms such as depression if a person is disheveled and maybe even anxiety if the person is impeccably groomed.

What is your opinion on the first sentence of Bonelli’s quote?

So it’s actually the first sentence that I struggled with most. On one hand, yes, absolutely, withdrawal and disinterest are primary symptoms of depression and this commonly manifests with us not showering or getting dressed for the day or not being

invested in our appearance at all. Some symptoms of psychosis can manifest in us layering clothes and using objects and materials that are not meant to be worn to dress ourselves. So yes, there is truth to this statement!

How do you think style of dress impacts people within the mental health field

Again, because I think appearance and dress should be looked at psychologically and socially at once, it feels difficult to answer this simply. I think therapists also practice mental health and wellness daily for themselves and their dress can be affected by how they are feeling just like anyone else. 

I believe dress and wardrobe education is necessary for empowering people to choose the clothing items that make them look and feel like their best self. Without this information, many people have no idea that their clothes can play such a significant role in their mood or that their wardrobe telling a story about their mood.

To celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week we are bringing back one of our favourite pieces highlighting the positive impact of meditation on Mental Wellbeing. 

Meditation is one of the most ancient and effective practices of combating stress, but how can we incorporate such an old practice into our technology driven lives? Nicola Mouskis explores the importance of meditation and the latest app that helps us weave it into our daily routine. 

With fashion designers adopting dual roles and the industry at its fastest pace ever, there has never been a more important time to step back and ‘take ten.’ 

Last year Lanvin designer Alber Elbaz gave a speech at the FGI (Fashion Group International) Night of Stars awards which embodied the daily pressures imposed on the industry following the rise of social media and other technological developments. “We are living in a smart world. It’s all about smart design, smart product and technology.” Whilst these developments are offering designers creative possibilities beyond their imagination, they are producing 24-hour work schedules that are leaving designers “exhausted.” 

Thus, these pressures are producing fatigue and stress levels that are ultimately hindering the innate creative talent that designers depend on. In his book Creativity is Forever, Gary A. Davis pin points the factors that block creative thought such as: high stress levels, fear of criticism and various social anxieties.  And so the question arises – what is being done to beat these factors and reduce the effects of stress? 

Amongst many of our hippie in heels fads, meditation has been adopted as a practice amongst many within the fashion industry from fashion designers to supermodels; everyone is giving the ancient practice a try. But with a busy 24-hour schedule run by technology it must be hard to incorporate such an ancient practice into our lifestyles – wrong. In a new wave of apps, meditation has become as easy as sending a text message. 

It is fundamental that we adopt practices such as meditation

In 2010, former monk Andy Puddicombe co-founded the meditation app Headspace in an effort to make meditation more accessible to the world. Since its launch, more than 150 countries have downloaded the app worldwide. In a brief welcome animation of the app Puddicombe describes Headspace as a ‘gym membership for the mind that can train the mind for a healthier, happier more enjoyable life.’ Expectedly so with evidence published over the years that suggests meditation helps reduce the harmful effects of stressful lifestyles.

Before subscription, the app offers a ‘Take Ten’ program, which consists of ten, ten-minute sessions for ten days. Guiltily, I was slightly sceptical before downloading the app, as I was keen to step away from my phone and any devices that bound me to my work and daily routine. However once I watched the welcome animations and set out with my first ten-minute session I saw the app as an easy introduction to meditation.

I continued the ten days consecutively, finding it difficult at first to remain loyal to taking time out of my day, however by the seventh day I found it easier to incorporate it into my morning routine and sooner or later it became second nature. Whilst the effects were minor and almost unnoticeable, I found that by the end of the ten days my patience for things around me had grown and conversations became easier, I took the time out to listen more. In a recent video blog for Vogue, Puddicombe describes this as the ‘ripple effects’ of meditation and that the positive energies we gain from it are eventually reflected onto others through our calmer state of mind.

By the tenth day I caved and subscribed to the app, looking forward to all the other meditation sessions on offer such as a series on sleep, health and even relationships. One of the most prominent differences I came to identify since using the app was my revived desire to sketch. It seems after introducing myself to meditation I had began to knock down the factors that Davis stated blocked creative thought and in a more recent publication by Preston Bentley, Meditation Made Easy we are told of the benefits meditation has on creativity. He describes the meditative process as one that “strengthens the architectures of your brain allowing you to think faster and visualize better.”

Ultimately with the foundations of our future being built around technology and an ever-growing pace of demands, it is fundamental that we adopt practices such as meditation that enable us to exercise our mind and breaking down boundaries that hinder our creativity and create more of a mindful experience. 

Fashion psychologists suggest that the link between style and mood is stronger than we think

The subjective complexion of human emotions has made distinct sensations, like “happiness”, difficult to quantify. Happiness is generally contingent upon a person’s unique perspective, perception, or preference. The way we dress can flamboyantly express our preferences, but it can also attract superfluous perceptions. When we wake up in the morning, we have a divine power that no other species on this planet has. That power is called Choice. Unless you have an occupation that issues standard uniforms, when you begin your day, you have a choice of what you can (and should) drape over your body. If you’re happy, you’ll more than likely wear something that expresses your happiness. If you’re sad, you’ll more than likely wear something that expresses the feeling of sadness. The correlation between how we dress and how we feel have raised questions in the psychology community that researchers are in the midst of passionately pursuing. If how we dress commences the feeling of happiness, is it possible that being consistently happy can affect what we choose to wear?

While fashion experts continue to capitalize on the effects of clothing, psychology experts are examining the influence that clothing has on moods. Professor Karen Pine, a leading expert in fashion psychology, confirms that the more we know about enclothed cognition and how it can lift a person’s mood, the less we will need anti-depressant medication. In a current news release published by Goodtherapy.org, several Applied Psychology professionals conducted research on the link between clothing choices and emotional states.
 
A group of one hundred women, ranging from the ages 21 to 64 years old, participated in this informative study. The results of this study found that clothing choices such as jeans, sweatshirts, and baggier apparel, could all be associated with depressed or sad moods. Interestingly, 51% of the women in the study wore jeans when they felt sad or depressed, while only 33% of the women wore jeans when they felt happy or positive. Donna Stellhorn, a Feng Shui expert who contributed her professional thoughts on how we interact with our environment, agreed with these results.

“When we reach for jeans we want something familiar because things around us are stressful”

​​She believes that lazy attire, such as jeans or t-shirts, indicate where a person’s mental energy is focused. “When we reach for jeans we want something familiar because things around us are stressful”, Stellhorn explained. Other results of the study found that accessories, such as hats and jewelry, can also affect women’s moods. Hats in particular, on men and women, usually pinpoint a person of power. Hats warrant attention, and in some cases, it helps a person cover up an insecurity so that the person can feel confident enough to interact with other individuals. Interacting with the opposite sex has been another major point of emphasis for clothing choices as well, but limited studies have yet to secure concrete results in this area.
 
Although men weren’t included in this study, some results could be similar for them as well. “A separate study on men should be considered. Men are much more focused on functionality in their wardrobe than women, regardless of emotional state. So, I do think there may be some general similarities, but overall women’s results would probably be more dramatic”, explained Shauna Mackenzie Heathman, owner of Mackenzie Image Consulting.
 
Overall, the emphasis of the study explained fashion’s powerful ability to create a perception of happiness.  When we’re feeling happy, we generally wear clothes that have good quality, good fit, and bright colors. When we are feeling unhappy, we take the focus off of our appearance and put our mental energy on whatever is making us unhappy. While women tend to be more in tuned with their emotions, they’re more likely to express their moods through visual stimulations—a theory that adheres to how women attract men. Men’s emotional adherence to clothing tends to be associated with colors—colors make a person standout more. Dressing happy when we’re happy isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it’s just predictable!

Being predictable, based on your mood, isn’t what fashion is about. Fashion isn’t about making the effort to “look the part”. Fashion is about being the part. Fashion is about expressing who you are, no matter what mood you’re in. Daniel Gilbert’s concept of Synthetic Happiness suggests that we have the power to manipulate what makes us happy. In other words, we can either give clothes the power to make us happy, or we can use clothing as a tool to express how we’re feeling at any given time.