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Maisie Allum

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We often think of our clothes as things, as possessions separate from ourselves when in reality, they act as a second skin. Your personal style can help you befriend your body and manage your moods, meaning that your choice of outfit can have a profound effect on how you feel. So, to celebrate the power of clothing to help you lean into who you truly are the FiP team have started a new series called #mysecondskin where we’ll be speaking to people from all walks of life about the role that their wardrobe plays in their everyday life. For our eighth instalment, we’re speaking to Senior Creative at ASOS, Jess Cheng.

Jess Cheng

Jess is an incredibly talented creative and art director based in London. Originally from Toronto, she now works at ASOS as a Senior Creative. Just like Jess’s bio reads “based on a true story”, she loves to share aspects of her life over at @thejesscheng, capturing moments on film or creating reels with her pals in her spare time. Although the main focus of her gram lies in showcasing her latest fashion pieces, from elevated basics to hot pink satin skirts, she has her audience hooked.

Here’s what Jess had to say when we asked her about her relationship with her own clothing: 

1. How do your clothes make you feel?

When I’m out wearing a good outfit? Confident, in-control, and self-actualised – in the best case scenario. The clothes I wear are something I have total control of, and I always try to dress to make me feel my best.

2. What is your most treasured item, that brings you joy?

I don’t tie much sentimental value to my items, and my wardrobe is always evolving. I do own a gigantic fluffy pink hat that I don’t see myself getting rid of anytime soon.

3. Do you believe your clothes are political/ define you in any way?

One hundred percent. The way you visually present yourself is an instant signifier of your identity, without having to say anything. In the past there was a standard ‘uniform’ people were expected to wear to different occasions (e.g. a suit to work, a white dress on your wedding day), but society nowadays is a lot more accepting of self-expression.

Without getting too deep into the semiotics of fashion, I let certain influences and inspirations shape what I like to wear. My style is quite accessible and practical for use. I do enjoy tapping into trends and changing up my look, and I think that also reflects in my personality as well. I don’t like subtlety or elegance, I gravitate towards bright colours and interesting cuts. 

4. Has Covid-19 changed your relationship with your clothes?

I’ve always leaned into a comfortable and casual aesthetic, and Covid was just an excuse to add more interesting joggers and sweat sets to my wardrobe! Sneakers over heels, any day!

I want to diversify my wardrobe with some more standout pieces with texture or pattern. I want to get my hands on a vintage LV multicoloured bag or a Charlotte Knowles top.

We often think of our clothes as things, as possessions separate from ourselves when in reality, they act as a second skin. Your personal style can help you befriend your body and manage your moods, meaning that your choice of outfit can have a profound effect on how you feel. So, to celebrate the power of clothing to help you lean into who you truly are the FiP team have started a new series called #mysecondskin where we’ll be speaking to people from all walks of life about the role that their wardrobe plays in their everyday life. For our seventh instalment, we’re speaking to product Designer and podcaster Stephanie Irwin.

Stephanie Irwin

Stephie (@Stephieirwin) is the host of the Fashion Originators Podcast (@fashionoriginatorspodcast) where she interviews game-changing fashion entrepreneurs.  She distil’s fashion content down to what’s important, creating solutions that are fun, inclusive and data-driven. Alongside podcasting, she is a product designer and associate lecturer at London College of Fashion.

Here’s what Stephie had to say when we asked her about her relationship with her own clothing:

1. How do your clothes make you feel?

My clothes make me feel whatever I want to channel in that given moment – whether its a luxurious black roll neck for coziness,  or a loose fit blazer over jeans so I feel casual yet put together. With time, I’ve learned that great fabric is the most important thing in a piece helping you feel a certain way. 

2. What is your most treasured item, that brings you joy? 

100% my Acne Studios camel coat. Not only is it a classic that elevates even the most lazy outfits, but it was the first purchase I ever made with my staff discount when I worked at Yoox net a porter! 

3. Do you believe your clothes are political/ define you in any way?

I think the most political thing one can do with shopping is to avoid fast fashion, take good care of your clothes, and REALLY think before making a purchase. Resell or rent out pieces you don’t wear much.

4. Has Covid-19 changed your relationship with your clothes?

100% – I’m far less judgmental of sweatpants!

5. What are you planning on buying next?

I’m in a phase of life where I’m trying to be super sensible with my cash, and only buy things that I could either sell later or keep  forever. I’m eyeing up some Mejuri diamond hoops, but think it will take a few more months of saving before those can happen! 

We often think of our clothes as things, as possessions separate from ourselves when in reality, they act as a second skin. Your personal style can help you befriend your body and manage your moods, meaning that your choice of outfit can have a profound effect on how you feel. So, to celebrate the power of clothing to help you lean into who you truly are the FiP team have started a new series called #mysecondskin where we’ll be speaking to people from all walks of life about the role that their wardrobe plays in their everyday life. For our sixth instalment, we’re speaking to Fashion Psychologist Dr Dion Terrelonge.

Dion Terrelonge

Dion (thefashionpsychologist_) is a Practitioner Psychologist, interested in the link between personal style, self-expression, and wellbeing. She advocates person-centred styling, drawing on positive psychology, transactional psychology, coaching and Enclothed Cognition. ⁠

Here’s what Dion had to say when we asked her about her relationship with her own clothing: 

1. How do your clothes make you feel?

Clothing makes me feel like myself. Most days I wake up and have a sense of what will best reflect my vibe that day. I’m forever running a couple of minutes late because I’ve not been able to leave the house until I felt comfortable and “right” in what I was wearing; what that outfit may be differs day to day and isn’t as simple for me as wanting to wear bright colours if I’m in a lively mood.

2. What is your most treasured item, that brings you joy? 

Two items come to mind. The first is the bridesmaids dress I wore for my sister’s wedding. At the time I wasn’t the biggest fan because it was pink and a bit froofy, but on that day I felt very close to her and was able to be the type of big sister I had been wanting to be as we weren’t as close as I would have liked. I remember being in that dress and holding up the train of her wedding dress while she did the Candy dance (if you know, you know). She passed away a few years back and that pink froofy dress reminds me of that day; when things were good.

The second item is an ex’s jumper; it’s dark blue and super soft. I went to do some voluntary work in Bali in 2019 and took it with me in lieu of a comfort blanket. If I feel down or anxious, wearing that jumper brings me comfort because I know it belonged to and was given to me by a friend who was and is massively supportive. It makes me feel safe.

3. Do you believe your clothes are political/ define you in any way?

I don’t know about political but I do use clothes to be a little socially defiant at times. As an academic, as a doctor, as a psychologist people presume and expect you to look, speak and dress a certain way and I do not meet many of those preconceived notions. While I was studying I dressed more conservatively and in line with course mates in an effort to blend in and hide my blackness, which might be viewed as an indicator of not being right for the profession or good enough.

So, I used clothes to tone down my blackness and working class roots in a hope that it wouldn’t be all people saw of me and therefore would leave more space for my voice to be heard and my capability to be seen. But when I graduated and I got that certificate that said Doctorate, I cornrowed my hair and went into work wearing my own version of what I deemed as professional looking.

I stopped caring about the opinions of others because I had a certificate that said I was competent, and I was good enough. It’s a shame that it took a piece of paper to do that, but we black women in particular struggle massively from imposter syndrome and society does not help.

4. Has Covid-19 changed your relationship with your clothes?

Well somehow magically, the pandemic has made all of my clothes shrink. No idea what happened there. It hasn’t changed my general relationship with the clothes I already own but it has changed my relationship with buying. Prior to the pandemic I was trying to be more sustainable in my approach, but the lockdowns really gave me time to be still and really take in how many clothes I already have.

During the pandemic I bought very little clothes wise; I just didn’t see the need. I think the pandemic gave many of us time and space for social issues to really percolate and become actively embedded in our consciousnesses. Now I try to only buy what I need, not just want and ensure that the item can be worn with other things to increase the life wear of other items in my wardrobe also.

5. What are you planning on buying next?

Like I said my shopping behaviours have waned greatly. What I am on the look out for is a medium sized cross body bag that can be worn out to nicer places but also just to the farmers market. I find it hard to leave home without feeling prepared for every possible eventuality, so I tend to carry a tote bag stuffed to the brim. I would love a crocodile skin pattern bag that’s big enough to carry my most important leave-home item, a book – oh and my keys. I don’t understand the trend for these super tiny bags; I’d feel prepared for nothing with that 

We often think of our clothes as things, as possessions separate from ourselves when in reality, they act as a second skin. Your personal style can help you befriend your body and manage your moods, meaning that your choice of outfit can have a profound effect on how you feel. So, to celebrate the power of clothing to help you lean into who you truly are the FiP team have started a new series called #mysecondskin where we’ll be speaking to people from all walks of life about the role that their wardrobe plays in their everyday life. For our fifth instalment, we’re speaking to sustainable style blogger and stylist Rosette Ale.

Rosette Ale

Rosette (@thriftqueenlola) is a sustainable style blogger and stylist who loves sharing thrifty style inspiration and tips as a secondhand clothing enthusiast. Her love for fashion and environmental interest lead to the birth of @revivalldn, a slow fashion reconstruction brand specialising in the repurposing of textile waste. Revival aims to propose a new way of thinking about clothes, opening the consumer’s eyes to the potential of their unworn and (about to be) discarded garments.

Here’s what Rosette had to say when we asked her about her relationship with her own clothing: 

1. How do your clothes make you feel?

My clothes make me feel eccentric, bold and confident; I’m a lover of bright colours and bold prints as I love to stand out! Also, I buy a lot of secondhand/vintage so these make me feel unique abs special as (usually) no one has the same item.

2. What is your most treasured item, that brings you joy? 

A vintage jacket I bought about 10 years ago! I think it’s the oldest time I own and it any favourite thing ever. The print is so 90s and unique and it feels like it’s made from duvet type of material which is kinda strange but I love it!

3. Do you believe your clothes are political/ define you in any way?

In some ways yes I do. I use clothes as a form of self expression so they reflect who I am (the different layers of my personality) and also what I want the world to see/know about me. But also I am not my clothes, I am so much more than that; my clothes just give you a sneak peak!

4. Has Covid-19 changed your relationship with your clothes?

Slightly but not massively. I had a wardrobe clear out in the first lockdown and it felt so refreshing but instead of giving them to charity like I usually would, I actually took some time out to revamp and rework some items. Also, the pandemic really showed me how much I love charity shops and I’ve missed them so much!

5. What are you planning on buying next?

I don’t have plans to buy anything at the moment but as soon as the charity shops open, I’m going to have a good browse. Spring/Summer is my fave season so hopefully I can find some nice bright pieces!

Follow @fashionispsychology on Instagram and use the hashtag #mysecondskin for your chance to be featured.

We often think of our clothes as things, as possessions separate from ourselves when in reality, they act as a second skin. Your personal style can help you befriend your body and manage your moods, meaning that your choice of outfit can have a profound effect on how you feel. So, to celebrate the power of clothing to help you lean into who you truly are the FiP team have started a new series called #mysecondskin where we’ll be speaking to people from all walks of life about the role that their wardrobe plays in their everyday life. For our third instalment, we’ll be speaking to fashion designer Richard Kolapo. 

Richard Kolapo

Richard is a designer and pattern cutter at Euler after studying Menswear fashion design at London College of Fashion. 

Here’s what Richard had to say when we asked him about his relationship with clothing: 

1. How do your clothes make you feel?

They make me feel accomplished mainly, sometimes sexy, at other times unique, stylish or cosy.

2. What is your most treasured item, that brings you joy? 

DEM Pantz by @bamboorazaq– they are the original samples. I think the mere fact I named them Dem Pantz brings me joy. I called them this on a whim.

3. Do you believe your clothes are political/ define you in any way?

Yes, now I think about it. They exhibit my understanding and appreciation of different women’s skin tones, body shapes and forms of beauty.

4. Has Covid-19 changed your relationship with your clothes?

Yes, I thought more about the psychology of how people will navigate lockdown in terms of spending, what they would like to buy generally and what they might appreciate most from me.

5. What are you planning on buying next?

I’m planning on buying more underwear as I cut many pairs up to help make patterns for some lingerie I’m trying to develop.

Follow @fashionispsychology on Instagram and use the hashtag #mysecondskin for your chance to be featured.

We often think of our clothes as things, as possessions separate from ourselves when in reality, they act as a second skin. Your personal style can help you befriend your body and manage your moods, meaning that your choice of outfit can have a profound effect on how you feel. So, to celebrate the power of clothing to help you lean into who you truly are the FiP team have started a new series called #mysecondskin where we’ll be speaking to people from all walks of life about the role that their wardrobe plays in their everyday life. For our second instalment, we’ll be speaking to founder and influencer Charlotte Williams

Charlotte Williams

Charlotte is the Founder of @sevensixagency which specialises in building unique brand marketing approaches, it runs influencer partnerships and management division with the aim to amplify the visibility of the most interesting yet overlooked content creators. She is also co-host of @sustainablyinfluenced, a podcast centred on discussions about ethical consumerism.

Here’s what Charlotte had to say when we asked her about her relationship with clothing: 

1. How do your clothes make you feel?

Depending on the outfit my clothes can make me feel so many different things. If I am feeling anxious, sad or uncomfortable in my skin certain loungewear or PJs can leave me feeling comforted, supported and relaxed. Whereas, certain dresses can make me feel happy and excited. It depends on the material, texture and history behind the piece. 

2. What is your most treasured item, that brings you joy? 

I weirdly don’t have any pieces I treasure more than others. I love all my clothes individually and everything I own excites me, even down to my pyjamas! 

3. Do you believe your clothes are political/ define you in any way?

I feel like I wear clothes that make me look and feel good. My style is colourful but also quite classic and is perhaps reflective of my personality. 

4. Has Covid-19 changed your relationship with your clothes?

I have spent the majority of the last year wearing loungewear, which is very out of character for me. I’ve recently made an effort to wear some of my favourite or more expensive/dressy pieces on a regular basis so they get worn rather than just sitting in my wardrobe like they are on display in a museum.

5. What are you planning on buying next?

Nothing, I actually don’t need anything and have so many pieces I haven’t worn in a long time so am just excited for the weather to warm up so I can get rotate my wardrobe.

Follow @fashionispsychology on Instagram and use the hashtag #mysecondskin for your chance to be featured.

We often think of our clothes as things, as possessions separate from ourselves when in reality, they act as a second skin. So to celebrate the power of clothing to help you lean into who you truly are the FiP team have started a new series called #mysecondskin where we’ll be speaking to people from all walks of life about the role that their wardrobe plays in their everyday life. To kick things off we’ll be speaking to Fashion Psychologist and FiP founder Shakaila Forbes-Bell

Shakaila Forbes-Bell

Shakaila Forbes-Bell is a published Fashion Psychologist, consultant, experienced marketer, writer and founder of Fashion is Psychology. She has worked with global fashion brands like Next, Sainsbury’s and AfterPay to help consumers understand the psychological significance of their clothing and beauty choices. She has bylines in renowned magazines including, i-D, Glamour and Marie Claire. Her work investigating the impact of racial diversity in fashion media has been published in the International Journal of Market Research.

1. How do your clothes make you feel?

No matter what, my clothes always provide me with a sense of control because I use them to navigate my moods or help me enhance my existing feelings and I’m not alone. More than two thirds (64%) of Brits believe that the way they dress can boost their moods and make them feel better about themselves. Every morning I tap into how I’m feeling and try to align that with what I’m doing for the day. For example, if I wake up feeling low due to lack of sleep or discomfort I’ll wear something super comfortable and soft as a way to self-soothe. Whereas if I have a busy day with back to back meetings I’ll wear something I associate with confidence and gain some strength from that to help me to get my -ish together and do what has to be done!

2. What is your most treasured item, that brings you joy? 

My older sister was my absolute favourite person in the world and sadly she passed away due to cancer in 2018. We used to dip in and out of each other’s wardrobes constantly. A love of clothing was something we shared and every time one of us bought something new it was meant with intense questioning, sizing up and of course laughter. One year, I had my eye on a maternity dress she bought from ASOS to wear at Christmas. I would borrow that dress all the time and she would laugh at how even her maternity clothes weren’t safe from my prying eyes! Now when I wear that dress, all of those cherished memories come flooding back and fill my heart with joy.

Left, my late sister and I being photobombed by our cousin’s legs, Christmas 2014. Right, our mother helping me shoot content for this piece in May 2021 and forgetting to move her foot! How can I wear this dress and not smile?

3. Do you believe your clothes define you in any way?

I believe that my clothes tell a story of me, what I’m inspired by and what I’m currently feeling. If you look at old pictures of me through my hipster phase (green leopard cardigan anyone?), my Lily Allen phase (exclusively dresses and trainers), my video vixen phase (where less was more) you’ll see a pattern. I’ve always been someone who used my clothes to tap into different parts of me, to express myself and my eclectic tastes. 

4. Has Covid-19 changed your relationship with your clothes?

The lack of commuting has given me much more time to consider what I want to wear every day which now leans on the side of comfort. Now that I’ve started going back into the office once a week, I’ve heavily incorporated comfort into my work wardrobe. I’ve realised that I can get a lot more done in my smart trainers than in those cute loafers which look way more ‘professional’ but give me blisters and distract me from my work.

5. What are you planning on buying next?

At the moment nothing but I am waiting for a few things that I bought on pre-order: A Telfar bag in pool blue and the Soraya dress from Hanifa. I’ve realised that the gratification you get from shopping lasts much longer when you buy something on pre-order. I could be having a stressful day and remember that something I’ve wanted for ages is making its way to me!

Follow @fashionispsychology on Instagram and use the hashtag #mysecondskin for your chance to be featured.

Get into costume, get into character

Both actors and psychologists devote a great deal of time to understanding the way humans think and behave, even if for totally separate purposes. A study combined these two worlds by analysing the relationship between an actor’s costume and their sense of self as their fictional character.

A costume speaks to the audience with words of silence.” Paterek, 1959

While it may seem obvious, actors felt a deeper connection to their character when first trying on their costume and this understanding created a burst of emotional life for their role. During this process, the actor is able to associate with their new persona by comprehending the time period, their socioeconomic status and unique personality. I guess this is what people mean when they say “Put yourself in someone else’s shoes” as you need to get into the mindset of the character both physically and mentally. It is important for the performer to question, ‘Why am I wearing this?’ to grow into their character. So, we can conclude that there is a striking relationship between a shift in sense of self and the degree of costuming.

Have you noticed that when the protagonists’ personality changes throughout the show so does their wardrobe? Much like when the nerd from a chick flick removes her glasses and is now the most desired by all the members of the football team. Researchers looked into the transformative effect of costume design and development of individual character on the heroine from the 1990s film Pretty Woman. When we first see Vivian played by Julia Roberts she is wearing knee-high boots and a short blue skirt in LA’s red-light district. Then, as she becomes more accustomed to acting like a rich woman we see her in black cocktail dresses, ruby red gowns and long white gloves. As we watch her wardrobe change the emotional transformation enables us to identify the storyline and often achieve virtually the same emotional highs.

Interpreting Characters through the Costume Designer’s Eyes

Behind every memorable character is a wardrobe chosen by the secret heroes of costume designers. Their goal is to create a new reality through dress that transforms an ordinary person into an authentic character, somewhat like an illusion. As just like in the real world what you wear says a lot about who you are.

A designer is only as good as the star who wears her clothes.” Edith Head

Costume designers approach the character not just from the storyline but from the perspective of what suits the actor. For example, they pay attention to body type and reduce any conflicting messages that go against their characters appearance. Their creative labor is hugely significant and complex, and their work needs to be granted greater visibility.

I’m sure I can speak for us all when I say my screen time has significantly gone up throughout the pandemic. As much as I don’t like to admit it, it’s the result of mindlessly scrolling on Instagram. However, research suggests that the app may contribute to adverse psychological outcomes and poor appearance-related self-perception or as some call it ‘influencer envy’.

The rise of technology has meant the ability to manipulate the way we look has become effortless. Subsequently, new generations are exposed to much more than just airbrushed photoshoots in magazines. A few scrolls down our feed and most of us will see Instagram models, influencers and even peers who perpetuate an unattainable standard of beauty whether it’s “knowing your angles”, a face filter or smoothing out your skin. Apps such as Facetune allow physical features to be manipulated entirely with the click of a few buttons, removing imperfections to whiten teeth, slim waists and reduce sizes to be accepted as beauty ideals.

Comparison Culture

Social Comparison Theory’ suggests individuals drive to evaluate their progress and in the absence of objective standards, people compare themselves to others to know where they stand. However, on Instagram, we can compare ourselves to these edited pictures or individuals with cosmetic surgery (without realising). You may think you easily spot editing; however, only 60%- 65% of the time people recognise edited photos.

A debate has arisen about whether it should be compulsory for manipulated faces and bodies to be labelled as edited on Instagram. This has been proven somewhat controversial- what is your take? On the one hand, it creates a warped sense of beauty, especially for vulnerable women with lower self-esteem. However, is it right to police people’s bodies, especially when it may make the poster feel more confident? Researchers found that viewing an idealised image from social media had a negative influence on women’s body image, no matter if it came with a disclaimer or not. Although, disclaimers lead viewers to form a less favourable impression of the poster. This suggests it may do more harm than good as the posters emotional wellbeing may lower with no effect on the viewer.

A rise in cosmetic surgery 

Evidence suggests social media pushes us to take part in life-threatening beauty trends in the interest of acceptance and social compliance in society, affecting emotional wellbeing. WomensHealth found that those in their 20s desired the fox eye effect of having eyes stretched upwards and back (as if pulled in a secure high ponytail) more than any other age group. This leads to surgery involving implanting dissolvable threads under their skin to hoist it up or Botox to raise their eyebrows. This was most likely the result of repeated exposure to this popular beauty trend and wanting to look more like models such as Bella Hadid. It seems women persist in internalising these beauty ideals as a model for their own comparisons. Consequently, steps need to be taken to help those affected by idealised images on Instagram.

With that Being Said Positive Psychology Can Help…

Positive emotions broaden momentary ‘thought-action repertoire’ (so, like how joy sparks the urge to play), which widens an individual’s mindset. Having an open mind while scrolling down the gram means you are more receptive to different information types. Putting you in an excellent position to judge whether the image is altered and whether or not you should engage in social comparison. These actions then become internalised and lead to feelings of acceptance.

In a 2020 study, women either observed ‘Instagram vs reality’, ‘ideal’ or ‘real’ images. Viewing the ‘Instagram vs reality’ and ‘real’ images whilst identifying the ‘ideal’ images as fake, disrupted the ‘social comparison process’ and reduced body dissatisfaction. This research suggests Instagram can enhance self-esteem with the photos associated with hashtag trends such as #instagramvsreality and #nomakeup as they promote self-acceptance. 

“If positive psychology teaches us anything, it is that all of us are a mixture of strengths and weaknesses. No one has it all. No one lacks it all.”

– Christopher Peterson

Therefore, follow some ‘real’ accounts representative of yourself to minimise the risk of engaging in unhealthy social comparison. 

Here are my recommendations for excellent reality-checking and body positivity accounts: 

1.  @danaemercer

“Reminding you you’re special.”

2. @planetprudence  

“Helping you see that your thoughts aren’t alone.”

3. @celebface

“WELCOME TO REALITY.”

4. @stephanieyeboah

“Self Love Advocate”

5. @hi.ur.beautiful 

“Here to remind you that there is no bad way to have a body.”

So what’s stopping you from using Instagram as a tool to foster an appreciation for the full spectrum of beauty!