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Megan Payne

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It’s that time of year when designers, models and industry experts are preparing to showcase six-months worth of work to the world. Although exciting and insightful, Fashion Week can be one of the busiest weeks of the year for many. Working days often exceed twelve-hours with tight deadlines, unforgiving schedules and inner-city traffic to contend with. For many, this leaves little time for self-care, rest and recovery which inevitably leads to burnout.

To help navigate the chaos of Fashion Week, here is a compilation of easy ways to manage stress and engage in some all-important ‘me time’.

1. Plan your outfits

Fashion Psychology

This may sound obvious but ensuring you days are planned as much as possible will give you structure and peace of mind that you know exactly what you are doing, where and at what time. 

 Similarly, try to plan outfits. What shows are you attending?  How much time do you have to change – and where? How long are you going to be out for; can you transition any outfits from day-to-night? Asking yourself these questions can help to narrow down options and ensure you are dressed appropriately and comfortably. 

But most importantly, pick clothes you feel great in! With cameras around what seems like every corner, it can be overwhelming. Putting the time in to prepare what you are going to wear, can help reduce stress and anxiety and even boost self-esteem. Wearing items of clothing you like and feel good in can improve psychological wellbeing, through the positive associations generated to the outfits (Adam & Galinsky, 2012). It may also help to improve sleep by ensuring you’re not lying awake until early hours of the morning, ruminating over potential outfit combinations.

2. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness exercises are often discounted, with the common perception that they’re a waste of time or require deep thought and attention – cognitive resources which seem in short supply during busy periods. Admittedly some exercises are more demanding than others, but giving yourself time in the day to ground your thoughts can be hugely beneficial (Bowlin & Baer, 2012). Something as small as listening to a podcast while commuting in-between shows (Headspace is a good one to try), practising deep breathing exercises or burning a calming candle at night can help to disengage from stressful thoughts and provide greater clarity of mind.

3. It is ok to say no

With hundreds of designers exhibiting collections throughout the week, there can be a subliminal pressure to schedule in as many shows as possible. Going against the instinct to say ‘yes’ to everyone and everything, can actually be quite empowering (Patrick & Hagtvedt, 2012) and can improve productivity and mental health (Pourjari & Zarnaghash, 2010).

 It is important to recognise your limits and be selective in the shows you choose to see. When thinking about which to attend, also try to schedule in breaks and consider (the likely longer) commuting times. There may be some changes throughout the week but limiting the number of events you attend will give you greater flexibility to adapt – and crucially, remain calm. A number of shows are now made available online too, so it is easier than ever to catch up on those you couldn’t make it to.

4. Stay fuelled

With lots of things to do, people to see and places to be, it can be easy for attention to be directed away sufficiently fuelling our bodies. One simple way to combat this is to ensure snacks are to hand at all times. Nuts, energy bars and smoothies can help to provide your body with the healthy fats, protein and vitamins it needs to keep going throughout long days. Meal-prepping in your spare time can also be an easy way to stock up on nutritious meals that simply need reheating in the evening. 

 In addition, it may be worth incorporating more specific foods into your diet, which research has found to have stress and anxiety-combatting abilities. Some examples include walnuts, bananas and chocolate which have been thought to possess antidepressant, mood-lifting and pleasure-inducing properties, respectively (Trivedi, Patel, Prajapati & Pinto, 2015). Furthermore, while a strong coffee can make early mornings a little more bearable, excess caffeine consumption can heighten anxiety (Brice & Smith, 2002), so perhaps opt for a bottle of water over a large cappuccino post-midday.  

5. Schedule in sleep

Finally, ensure you are allowing yourself enough sleep. Functioning on a sleep-deprived body and brain is not easy on an average day, so during the long, demanding days of Fashion Week, getting eight hours sleep is even more important. Sleep helps our bodies to repair and restore, preventing us from catching illness, irritability and being unable to concentrate. Getting a good night’s sleep can increase stamina and prevent burnout, post- Fashion Week.

Although it is undoubtedly one of the most exciting, anticipated weeks of the year in the industry, it is no secret that Fashion Week can be one of the most overwhelming too. However, by following just a few of these tips, or simply taking the time to implement small acts of self-care, the mayhem can become a little more manageable.

With the change in seasons approaching and the added stresses of the new lives we all seem to be living amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, online shopping is likely to become an outlet for many but buyers need to beware.

While there is nothing wrong with treating yourself to a few new pieces every season, the lure of new collections combined with increased discounts makes it all-too-easy to become carried away and that is where Fashion Psychology steps in.

Here are five tips to help you make the most of your money by shopping mindfully.

Tip 1: Ask yourself, ‘why am I shopping?’

Shopping can be motivated by boredom or habit, as much as necessity. Before pressing ‘purchase’ ask yourself why you’re looking for new clothes; is it to fulfill a gap in your wardrobe, or rather as a way to find contentment or purpose in your day. Although retail therapy can have some therapeutic benefits (Atalay & Meloy, 2011) a much more effective and fulfilling way to boost your mood and banish boredom is by seeking human contact or engaging in other restorative activities (Frank, 2004).

Tip 2: Think about what you are choosing

It’s tempting to opt for the most extravagant, or socially desirable option when shopping. While it’s quite natural for humans to want to strive for the best and assure social acceptance (e.g. De Wall & Bushman, 2011), it is easy to get carried away and sometimes, spend above our means. That’s why it’s important for us to not only consider why we are shopping but also what we are choosing.

There is a distinction between satisfying our needs and reaching beyond them. On occasion, if we can afford it, it is rewarding to splurge on something a little more special, but on a daily basis, it isn’t always the best option. An immediate sense of excitement will undoubtedly be apparent after making a luxury purchase, but in the long-run, these decisions have a greater propensity to lead to greater regret (Iyengar, Wells & Schwartz, 2006).

Tip 3: Give shopping your full attention

Equally, do ever find yourself making unnecessary purchases, just because they’re a bargain? I’m sure most of us can find at least one item of clothing that lies latent in the corner of our wardrobes with the tags still on.

When faced with a sale, try to ask yourself ‘would I pay full price for this item?’ and if the answer is no, then the chances are that you don’t need it. It’s also important to consider the price vs quality balance of garments. Super cheap items are unlikely to stand the test of time, so you’ll find yourself in a repetitive cycle of repurchasing. Without spending above your means, think about investing in key pieces for your wardrobe; these will last years, produce less waste and save you money in the long-term.

Tip 4: Plan your shopping

Before you embark on a shopping spree, try to assess your wardrobe and even plan some outfits with the items you own. Mix up your looks from previous years by layering different items and pairing pieces that you might not have thought to before.

When you have identified the gaps, doing something as simple as writing a list can help to prevent your shopping habits from going haywire. Having something concrete to follow will help you feel more in control, even if your emotions might suggest otherwise. However, try not to be too specific. By giving yourself an element of choice, it can help you feel good about yourself and make the shopping experience more enjoyable overall (Garg & Lerner, 2013).

Tip 5: Think about where you are shopping

Unfortunately, the fashion industry is still riddled with exploitation. Garment workers face fatal consequences to their mental and physical health as a result of the conditions they work in every day. Being mindful of who you are giving your money and service will not only encourage ethical and sustainable working conditions and practices but will also support independent businesses that are likely to be suffering as a result of the pandemic’s economic downturn.

Do you have any more tips for shopping mindfully? Let us know in the comments below.

With the average woman owning 103 items in her wardrobe but reporting to only wear 10% of it, I think it is clear to say we have complex relationships with our clothing collections. But why do so many of us fall victim to these hoarding behaviours, how can we overcome them, and what does that mere 10% actually say about us? These are all questions the study of ‘wardrobe ethnography’ aims to answer. 

Wardrobe ethnography is a term used to describe the analysis of the items that accumulate, to make up our wardrobes. By looking at the relationship between ourselves and what we own or regularly wear, it can reveal a form of our identities. However, this can also extend to look at the way we organise items (what we choose to hang or fold, and how), and the places we keep gifted or inherited items, which may indicate the types of relationships you hold with those who gifted them. All of these small elements can tell a story; one which you may not even be aware of. 

 While the clothes we wear are predominantly for assurance and fashion, the process of shopping for and selecting items can also become an equally negative experience in becoming a breeding ground for body dissatisfaction (Tiggemann & Lacey, 2009). This means the relationship we have with our clothing and the decisions we make about what to wear incredibly important when we form perceptions of ourselves.

 However, it’s not just what we do wear that forms a reflection of who we are – what we choose to store in our cupboards unworn, forgotten, or treasured is equally significant (Woodward & Greasley, 2017). Our clothes and accessories act as an externalisation of our past selves, memories, and relationships so it’s only natural that as we evolve and grow, our wardrobes do too. 

By looking at the relationship between ourselves and what we own or regularly wear, it can reveal a form of our identities.

One clear example of this transition and change is the patterns of behaviour women show during pregnancy when styling themselves. After analysing the ways mothers-to-be interact with their wardrobes two key themes regularly emerge glamour and display (Gregson & Beale, 2004). When pregnant, many women choose to wear items of clothing that enhance their bumps – even if this is an area they would have previously sought to camouflage. Even so, the novelty of purchasing these maternity-specific items is often only endorsed for short-term uses like special occasions, rather than daily wear. After the postpartum period, maternity clothing is regularly seen to be passed on to other mothers-to-be – once again, reflecting the changes in our clothing and self-identity that occur simultaneously. 

 Despite its benefits, this seemingly interwoven relationship between what our wardrobes contain and our sense of identity is also proving problematic in today’s society. With almost-instant access to affordable fast-fashion, our desire to create the ‘perfect’ wardrobe are more prominent than ever (Petersson McIntyre, 2019). Our efforts to live more minimally and sustainably are easily overturned by the lure of weekly new-collections and the need to be perceived positively by others, with our value becoming increasingly equitable to the possession of materialistic objects (Crăciun, 2014)

But where does this leave us? Will we ever reach a harmony between achieving both wardrobe sustainability and satisfaction? 

 Well, one answer could lie in improving not only the physical durability of clothing items, but their emotional durability too. Emotional durability is a measure of the length of time an item remains relevant and attractive to its user. By designing products with the physical properties (i.e. appearance, functionality) as well as their emotional and symbolic values in mind, high-quality garments with great emotional appeal can be created (Burcikova, 2019). This encourages consumers to hold onto and care for their clothes, ultimately reducing the desire to aimlessly add new items to their collections.

If you’re now left wondering what your wardrobe could say about you, take our quiz to find out. 

Our clothes undoubtedly hold huge importance in our lives. Not only do we wear them every day but they allow us to portray different aspects of our personalities, depending on the situations we find ourselves in. However, our clothes may not only reveal truths about our personality traits, but our wardrobes can also indicate what sort of shopping habits we engage in. Using Fashion Psychology research we’ve created a quiz to help you discover what type of shopper you are, to help you learn more about yourself and make informed shopping choices!

Well, what are you waiting for?

Take our quiz!

At some point in our lives, I’m sure we’ve all been told that ‘first impressions count’. More often than not, this age-old phrase refers to the way we dress, carry ourselves, and speak. While all of these factors are undoubtedly important, research suggests that your shoes may have a greater impact on first impressions than you may think!

One study asked a group of participants to provide pictures of their most worn pair of shoes, they then revealed aspects of their personality and other demographic factors to the researchers. A separate group of participants was then asked to look at the (anonymous) images of shoes and make judgements about the unknown shoe owners. Surprisingly, results revealed that the shoe owners’ age, gender, income, and attachment anxiety could be accurately determined accurately based on the images of their shoes alone!

The power of shoes doesn’t stop there. Shoes can also be an effective way of changing how you feel. For example, during the lockdown, it has been shown that one in eight people would prefer to have a more casual office dress code than earn more money. And in a society largely driven by money, that is a big statement to make.

Comfortable clothing and footwear have been shown to positively impact cognition, providing people with more mental space to focus on their work and spend less time worrying over unnecessary distractions like the restriction of their suit jackets or twisting or tights. And it has perhaps taken lockdown’s implementation of working from home for us all to realise just how liberating it is to take a conference call in the comfort of our slippers.

But this doesn’t mean we should be in a hurry to cancel all high heels in honour of our trainers; rather, it’s about the time and place we choose to wear each. In some instances, heels can in fact, be of benefit. For example, women are rated as looking and feeling more attractive and empowered when wearing heels.

In short, it is evident that our shoes hold much greater power and purpose than merely protecting our feet; they can be used to transform the way others perceive us as well as the way we perceive ourselves. Taking the time to engage in the way we feel, or hope to feel before leaving the door and selecting our footwear accordingly, could make a surprisingly big difference to the success of our days. 

Operating beauty halls filled with hundreds of perfumes can be quite the task but lucky for you, in part 3 of our Psychology of Scents series we’ve curated a collection of our current favourite fragrances and used psychological research to suggest what type of person, or occasion, each is likely to suit.

When selecting a perfume, it is particularly important to consider the ‘notes’ that comprise a fragrance. Top notes are those which you smell immediately after applying the perfume to the skin. As these wear off, the heart notes are revealed. Finally, the base notes are the scents that linger; the ones which will stay with you throughout the day. This is why it is its always a good idea to try a fragrance before you buy it and we suggest that you give these 5 a go!

1. Charlotte Tilbury: Scent of a Dream

RRP: £68 (50ml, also available in 30ml and 100ml

 Top notes: Lemon, Peach, Black Pepper

Heart notes: Jasmine, Frankincense, Tuberose and Violet

Base notes: Fire Tree, Iso E Super, Patchouli and Ambroxan

With the aim to bring joy, love and power to each of its wearers, Scent of a Dream is the perfect day-to-night fragrance. The immediate fruitiness of lemon and peach is inviting and invigorating, to encourage a sense of inner confidence. Floral heart notes of jasmine, frankincense, tuberose and violet develop over the next five hours, to create an elegant and gracious aroma throughout the day. As the evening arises, the rich, warm base notes are activated to portray a seductive power. 

Buy Scent of a Dream here

2. Tom Ford: Rose Prick

 RRP: £218 (50ml, also available in 100ml

 Top notes: Sichuan Pepper, Turmeric

Heart notes: May rose, Turkish Rose, Bulgarian Rose

Base notes: Patchouli, Tonka Bean

A modern twist on the classic floral scent, Tom Ford combines the elegant odour of a trio of roses with spicy notes of pepper and turmeric and a musky base of patchouli and tonka bean to create an elegant fragrance with a sharp yet warm edge. This delicate yet daring combination portrays an individual to be feminine in style and fair but focussed in nature. 

Buy Rose Prick here

3. Jo Loves: White Rose & Lemon Leaves

Jo Loves: White Rose & Lemon Leaves 

 RRP: £70 (50ml, also available in 100ml)

 Top notes: Lemon Peel, Petit Grain, Pink Pepper

Heart notes: White Rose Oil, Geranium Leaves, Muguet, Violet

Base notes: Rose Absolute, Clove Buds, Honey, Amber

 Inspired by the white roses’ ability to “represent love and celebration and bring back some of life’s most treasured and memorable moments”, this fresh and floral fragrance is one to wear on an occasion you want to remember. A classical and calming heart of white rose is balanced between the uplifting lemon peel and subtle sweet honey and clove to create a scent that will endure for years to come.  

Buy White Rose & Lemon Leaves here

4. Jo Malone: Lime Basil & Mandarin

RRP: £69 (50ml, also available in 30ml and 100ml)

 Top notes: Mandarin 

Heart notes: Basil 

Base notes: Amberwood

 Described as “peppery basil and aromatic white thyme bring an unexpected twist to the scent of limes on a Caribbean breeze”, Jo Malone’s Lime Basil and Mandarin is our go-to summer scent. The sweet, zesty scent of lime and mandarin awakens the senses to provide that instant feel-good factor. As it settles on the skin, a herbaceous undertone is revealed to leave a fresh and light finish.

 Buy Lime Basil & Mandarin here

5. Angela Flanders: Xanadu Eau de Parfum

RRP: £79 (50ml) 

 Top notes: Bergamot, Brazilian Orange

Heart notes: Spices, Resins, Woods

Base notes: Patchouli, Rosewood, Cedarwood

 The citrusy scents of bergamot and orange lie on a warm bed of wood and spice to create an enchanting and romantic fragrance. Xanadu Eau de Parfum is a long-lasting unisex perfume, perfect for cosy nights and more formal occasions. 

Buy Xanadu Eau de Parfum here

If like us, you were fascinated by episode 1 of Netflix’s new docuseries [Un}well then you know that scents are incredibly powerful. Scents hold a unique power to instantly transport us back to times of intimacy, joy or even despair. Over time the glass bottles that decorate our dressers can house something much more than the notes describing their contents; they become time capsules that can momentarily awaken emotions deep within our conscience. In our new 3-Part Psychology of Scents series, we’re investigating the scientific importance of scents. 

Scents hold memories.

Although each of our five senses contributes to the recollection and reconstruction of memories, scents are the most significant. A study by Dr Silvia Álava titled ‘Smells and Emotions’ found that people remember 35% of what they smell, but only 5% of what they see – and the majority of participants noted how specific scents reactivated happy memories.

This phenomenon can be otherwise known as the Proustian Memory Effect, the idea that scents evoke more emotional memories than other memory cues (Chu & Downes, 2000) is hardwired into human nature. Fast connections between brain regions are responsible for the processing of scents and retrieval of emotional information, or memories (Eichenbaum & Otto, 1992). For example, products are often more appealing when they are associated with pleasant scents, and so, they will also have a greater positive emotional appeal (Sugiyama et al., 2015). As there is a human tendency to remember highly emotional information, by association, it means the scent alone can trigger accurate recall of product information. But these associations don’t lie with objects alone.

We judge people based on their scent.

The fragrances we choose to wear could also influence other people’s impressions of our personalities. For example, one study had 90 women smell three perfume samples and rate their level of agreement/disagreement on the types of personality traits a hypothetical wearer would display, as well as their subjective liking of the scent. The results were precise; perceptions of a person’s personality differed depending on the composition of the fragrance – much like how visual differences in appearance can influence prejudgements.

In comparison to oriental (citrus) and chypre (herbal, woody) scents, wearers of floral perfumes were associated with those who hold fewer ‘masculine’ traits and are likely to be more inhibited (e.g. less flirtatious, dramatic, fashionable). What’s also interesting is that the more similar two fragrances’ were in scent, the more similar their wearers were in personality. Therefore, there may be more to managing your impression than the simple presence or absence of a fragrance – it’s specifically what you choose to wear that seems to count.

Scents can change how you act.

Sure, these fragrance-based first impressions could help secure a job or find a romantic partner, but they also affect how likely you are to be supported, or help another, in a time of need. Being surrounded by pleasant odours such as roasting coffee, pastries, or perfume can cause strangers to act more prosocially. We see this effect both in busy shopping malls and at pedestrian crossings (Baron, 1997; Guéguen, 2001). As a subtle sniff of a pleasant scent can trigger recollection of associated positive memories or feelings, it helps to lift our moods. This mood change subsequently increases prosocial behaviours, which can be for several reasons. 

Smell good, feel good, do good.

What’s equally important, and perhaps more relevant to day-to-day life, is how we can use fragrance to help ourselves. As the practice of mindfulness teaches, tuning into our senses can be incredibly grounding and ultimately, improve our mental wellbeing. It can be challenging to detach from past and future demands, but being surrounded by pleasant sights, sounds, tastes, touches or smells can make a significant difference when trying to create a moment of peace and relaxation. One study by Field and colleagues showed that after sniffing a lavender-infused cosmetic cleanser, adults became more relaxed, had an improved mood and completed maths calculations faster than before. Therefore, specific fragrances can be particularly useful at calming both the mind and body, improving focus on the present moment. Something as simple as using a lavender-scented fabric softener, or burning a candle in the evening could help to ease anxieties.

With this in mind, it is clear that fragrance has far more power and purpose than merely adding or masking an odour. The perfumes we all choose to wear can share something about who we are or change how we feel about ourselves. In the same way, we might think about what we are wearing; perhaps fragrance should be given more considerable thought; try asking yourself, how does this make me feel, or how do I want to feel.

Stay-tuned next week for Part 2 of the Psychology of Scents Series, when fragrance experts will reveal the key to finding your signature scent!

This post was featured on Links à la Mode fashion roundup by Independent Fashion Bloggers.

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