Author

Megan Payne

Browsing

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.

More fashion articles:

With COVID-19 putting a pause on the world, the fashion industry has been forced to adapt accordingly, and with the year’s second season of fashion weeks fast-approaching unsurprisingly, they are not proceeding as normal. Unwilling to disrupt the economy and put designer’s work to waste, the industry has followed in the footsteps of most other businesses and moved its highly-anticipated event online.

London led the way by streaming its virtual fashion week from the 12th to 14th June. Hosted by londonfashionweek.com, the three-day event offered a selection of interviews, podcasts, videos and digital showcases of SS21 collections for viewers to tune in with. Supposedly due to the disruptions in the production line, there was significantly less of a focus on the garments themselves and fewer of the leading fashion houses made an appearance. However, this did offer the opportunity to strip the industry from its jam-packed schedules and theatrical catwalk performances, providing the time and space to reflect on its contribution to current affairs as well as its hidden talents in the form of smaller designers.

A time for reflection

The digital London Fashion Week opened with a poem by James Massiah, which captured “all the things that are fun about Summer and all the things that we might miss because of lock down.” It further emphasised how fashion should no longer focus on “peoples’ identity, race or class. You can choose the clothes you wear, the people you hang out with and the places you go and I really wanted to focus on those things more.” This recognition of current affairs and pressing global issues set a striking tone of reflection for the days to come, in line with the slowed pace of life COVID-19 has encouraged us all to adopt. I’m sure we can all agree that taking the time to appreciate what we have got and could work further to achieve is a habit many could adopt.

Research has shown a relationship between being mindful and having more sustainable consumption – both of which have also been shown to improve long-term wellbeing. This brings to question why the fashion industry hasn’t adopted a greater focus on enhancing the wardrobes we currently have, rather than what we should add to it (Geiger, Grossman & Schrader, 2019).  What’s more, adopting a mindful approach can also benefit those around us too, as being aware of our actions makes us more likely to adopt them to become more prosocial (Donald et al, 2018).

Telling a story

The benefits of these new forms of Fashion Weeks may not lie only with the consumer. With approximately 4.57 billion people actively using the internet in April 2020, hosting catwalk shows online hugely increases the accessibility of live content worldwide – if you compare it to the handful of chosen celebrities and industry experts who sat in the front rows each year. By exposing the work of designers to thousands, if not millions, of more people it significantly increases the profiles of professionals and ultimately ends in more sales.

One of the most powerful aspects of the Fashion Week showcases are the stories that each collection conveys; and it is this narrative that allows people to connect with both the designers and the garments themselves. People are more likely to remember information presented in a story format, rate the brand more positively and be more likely to purchase the products (Lundqvist, Liljander, Gummerus & van Riel, 2013). Furthermore, stories are easy for consumers to attend to. From a young age many of us are presented with information through stories, we learn to connect to others by learning about their experiences and appreciate the world by engaging in its history (e.g. Woodside, Sood & Miller, 2008). Although we have begun to see live streams of catwalk shows made available to the public in recent years, it is perhaps surprising that it has taken a pandemic to push the fashion industry into expanding its online presence during Fashion Week, given the accessibility, adaptability and arguably increasingly effective nature of the internet.

What’s next?

This wave of innovation is something that has been deemed as an inherent human instinct; we are driven to adapt to environmental and situational changes, or pressures in order for us to survive – both in physical and organisational terms (Reiter-Palmon, 2011). However, as in most cases, a first attempt is not perfect, so with this season pioneering the new fashion week modality, it is inevitable that mistakes will be made.

Researchers have shown that innovation and creativity however is not always as simple is learning from and acting upon mistakes. In fact, there are a number of specific factors that foster change more effectively than others. Axtell, Holman & Wall (2006) noted how a high initial level of external support for new suggestions is needed, followed by structural job changes like the level of autonomy which allow individuals to freely adapt and generate new ideas. Finally, team members and colleagues must also be supportive of and willing to implement such changes. Although not a complete explanation, this may help to explain why this seemingly obviously beneficial method of communicating Fashion Week has been resisted until now.

Similarly, while we do indeed love to adapt and innovate, we are also creatures of habit. And one thing digital Fashion Weeks threaten is a love for tradition. These historically social and creative events have been held biannually ever since 1943, which provides us a sense of security. Their predictability subtly indicates that everything is constant and ‘normal’ – which is when we naturally feel most comfortable (Psychology Today). As I’m sure you are all aware, the current global situation is somewhat abnormal, and moving these events online only signifies this further by disrupting the predictability, constancy and normality that we crave.

It is still too early to see whether digital Fashion Weeks will be responded to with resentment or seen as a revolution, but whatever the case it is no secret that this new digital scene will take some getting used to. Hundreds of photographers, reporters, celebrities and stylists congregate in the world’s fashion capitals to observe the next-season’s trends, so to see these cities silent in what is usually one of their busiest times of year will be a significant change.

However, this new wave of innovation could be somewhat exciting. Technology is continually advancing, such as the introduction of shopping in virtual reality (Hur, Jang & Choo, 2019), leaving the possibilities for the future of fashion almost endless. Could we be witnessing a momentous change in the fashion industry, or do you think the tradition is too strong for any changes to have a lasting impact? 

Self-care is a term we are all aware of; its importance in maintaining psychological wellbeing is well-recognised, yet few of us seem to engage in it. Self-care can involve anything from cooking to cleaning, taking yourself on a walk in the woods or reading a book in the garden. However, one simple and easy way many of us could take care of minds and bodies is through the humble manicure.

However, there are far more benefits than first meet the eye when taking the time to care for your fingertips. By focusing on the intricacies of filing, shaping, moisturising and painting each individual nail encourages us to be mindful. By concentrating on the present, it gives our minds a moment to break away from the recurrent list of responsibilities we are regularly reminded of. As polish dries relish in the respite; for fifteen minutes there’s nothing to do but remain still. Even checking your phone can be difficult, which brings the rare opportunity to switch off from your online existence too.

But if this restful style of relaxation isn’t your idea of peace, painting your nails can also provide a way to bond with friends and family. Unlike other popular activities of indulgence like shopping, there is much less emphasis on body shape and size and therefore offer less of a chance to engage in unhealthy comparisons. Even when going to the salon isn’t an option, hosting virtual manicure sessions with friends could be a fun way to unwind and catch up.

The benefits of having neat and tidy nails extend further than the momentary mindfulness the process creates. Although only a small part of our appearances, our nails can in fact implicitly portray a particular image to others. Pleasantly presented hands and nails have been associated with holding a position of power and in 2012, The Wall Street Journal reported nail salons as being popular locations for meetings amongst professional women.

Much like the colours of clothes we wear, the shades we choose to place upon our nails can reflect aspects of our personality and influence our mood. Some scientists have suggested that certain colours can affect our heart rate and brain signals in different ways, and in turn how we think and feel. These biological influences seem to be reflected in our behaviour too – whether it is consciously or subconsciously. Patterns have been identified amongst nail salon customers when it comes to selecting the colour to decorate their nails with. People often opt for shades that either match or help to modify their current mood. Here are just a handful of ways your go-to nail varnish might be revealing aspects of yourself, you never even realised: 

  • Black – symbolises mystery and can be worn to share a slightly more rebellious, daring side of yourself.
  • Blue – is thought to reflect trust and peace; this sense colour’s sense of tranquillity can be soothing in times of uncertainty. 
  • Orange – is an optimistic colour, portraying someone who is self-assured and sociable. When confidence is running a little low, glancing down at your orange fingertips can instantly inject a sense of positivity! 
  • Pastels – provide a soft and delicate finish, perfect for times of relaxation, comfort and signifying new beginnings.
  • Yellow –an energetic, eye-catching shade often chosen by those who have a positive presence. This colour can be chosen when experiencing burnout, to reignite an inner energy.

In essence, there is far more than first meets the eye when it comes to manicures. Serving as an act of socialisation and self-care, the benefits of the beauty treatment can be significant for us all. If investing time and effort into your fingertips brings you joy, confidence and helps to wind-down after a busy day, there should be no shame in dedicating an evening each week to doing just this.

Spring has officially sprung and with the majority of us spending more time at home than ever it is the perfect excuse to properly declutter and organise our wardrobes. Understandably this task can evoke anxiety, given most people don’t wear at least half of the clothes they own. However, it is almost guaranteed that letting go of our inner hoarders will not only tidy our wardrobes but also our minds. Here are some simple tips to help conquer arguably the greatest hurdle: getting started.

1. Take it all out

To see what you have really got to work with, it is best to take everything out of your wardrobe. This way, not only can you give the crevices of your closet a deep clean, but you’ll have a blank canvas to create innovative, efficient organisation solutions. Placing the contents onto your bed allows you to form clear piles, such as one for charity, swapping with friends and selling on websites like Depop. Creating the barrier between yourself and your bed will also ensure your motivation does not drift, and the task cannot be postponed for another day. 

2. What brings you joy?

When it comes to deciding what to keep and what to part ways with, it can be daunting. Many of us are plagued by an inner voice that endorses hoarding behaviour – but are you really going to wear that skirt again, which made its one and only appearance four years-ago? In true Marie Kondo style, the short and simple question to ask yourself when stuck in such a debate is: does this item spark joy? Or in other words, does it make you feel happy, confident or inspired?  

Sometimes, there’s a need to be a little more ruthless. I’m sure we all own garments that provoke memories of positive times and special people – but that doesn’t mean we will wear them again. So, if you’re still struggling for space after the first cut, maybe ask if the curated collection of clothes projects an image you want to portray. Look to Instagram, Pinterest or even street-style to help build a personal image. If your wardrobe reflects this, not only will getting dressed in the mornings help you to embody the powerful, elegant or alternative person you wish to be, but it will also ensure items can be worn interchangeably to maximise their versatility and potential. Furthermore, replacing automatic negative thoughts with ones that focus on the benefits of refining your wardrobe, will encourage a more positive mindset and successful spring clean. 

3. Donate

With the hardest part of the spring clean accomplished, it is important to dispose of your unwanted items sustainably. One of the most effective ways to do this is to donate. Charities will always be grateful for new clothes to sell in-store, especially if they’ve been washed and are still in good quality. More formal pieces, in particular, can be donated to Smart Works, a UK-based charity that helps disadvantaged women enhance their employment prospects. They provide support in building employability skills and searching for employment, which includes providing an interview-appropriate outfit.

Giving to others has personal benefits too. Research has found that carrying out moral actions, such as donating to charity or helping another person, enables people to show greater physical and mental endurance. The perception of this increased self-control can influence subsequent behaviours by encouraging us to perform additional moral acts, to confirm this self-perception.  

4. Organisation

Now you’ve gone out with the old, it’s time to put everything in with a new organisational approach. An effective method to maximise ease and minimise the time spent searching for an item, is sorting clothes by category and further by colour. Once rails have been sectioned into jackets, blouses, jeans, skirts and dresses, try to create a colour gradient from dark to light. Not only is this aesthetically pleasing but colours can be used to compliment or even influence our moods. One study found significant associations between consumer perceptions of specific colours. For example, the colour red was associated with excitement, black with sophistication and white with sincerity. Having a clearly visible colour palette will help identify looks which can embody and enhance appropriate emotions. 

5. Mindful storage

A tidy wardrobe can create a tidy mind, so no matter the shape or size of your closet, mindfully storing clothes helps to maintain garment quality and importantly, mental clarity. Prioritise hanging longer, delicate garments while folding heavier items like jumpers and jeans. T-shirts, pyjamas and gym-wear can be rolled to create more space inside drawers and prevent creasing. To be even more storage-savvy, try to store your most-worn clothes at eye level or organise drawer contents in the order you get dressed. These simple tricks aid the automatisation of our actions and decision-making, opening mental space for making more accurate judgements on issues with arguably greater importance, than what we are going to wear.   

A wardrobe clear out is not a quick nor easy job but reducing and reorganising your collection of clothes has both aesthetic and cognitive benefits. Maximising the efficiency of closet space and organising it to complement implicit ways of thinking, can make small yet significant changes to our daily routines. When making future purchases, try to adopt a ‘one in, one out’ rule and question if you will get one hundred wears out of an item, to ensure only sustainable and economically effective decisions are made.

What to wear when working from home can be a challenge. The temptation to remain your cosy pyjamas can be overwhelming. If no one is going to see you (with the exception of the postman who comes bearing your neighbour’s parcels), is there much point in getting ready for the day? Even so, surely being comfortable will make you more productive – and nothing is more comfortable than a plush dressing gown and cashmere joggers? 

Sadly, this is not the case – working in our loungewear can, in fact, hinder productivity. Since birth, we have learnt to associate our nightwear with a state of relaxation, so our bodies can prepare to slumber. Unfortunately for us, this has become almost too effective; every time we dress in pyjamas we unknowingly signal for our brains to sleep, which is not the ideal situation at 9 am on a Monday morning. In the same way, wearing smarter clothing that mirrors the working environment you are familiar with can help to change your mindset to one that focuses on work, as a result of the intrinsic associations you would have created. 

More importantly, getting dressed in the mornings can help you feel good and by improving your self-perception, personal confidence and performance at work. Creating a positive work environment is essential when working from home; you want to have a space that is both inspirational and motivational, and a central aspect of this is your clothing. Research has shown that the mood and performance of workers can be affected by the appropriateness of their attire (Soloman & Schopler, 1982). Being formally dressed allows people to adopt self-perceptions associated with their clothing and describe themselves using more formal adjectives, meanwhile, the opposite occurs when in more casual dress (Hannover & Kuehnen, 2002). It seems dressing casually may create a more casual work ethic, or feeling lower productivity. Therefore, the feelings we attach to certain types of clothing can subliminally influence our behaviour so we perform in a way that is congruent with what would be expected, based upon our attire. 

However, this isn’t to say people should work from home in suits and court-heeled shoes. It is equally important to have positive feelings about the items of clothing you wear because this will enhance positive emotions, perceived competency and sociability (Kwonn, 1994b). If you are going to be working from home for the day, there is no shame in putting on a pair of trousers that are a little more casual than what would be expected in the office. In some instances, wearing slightly more casual clothes can, in fact, boost morale and productivity (Alonzo, 1996 in Peluchette & Karl, 2007 ), perhaps through reducing a sense of corporate pressure . Experiencing psychological or physical discomfort can have a counterproductive effect on self-perceptions (Peluchette & Karl, 2007), so it’s about creating a balance between being dressed smart enough to emulate an occupational mindset, while remaining comfortable

It is clear that feeling good in what you’re wearing can also help you feel good about yourself and therefore increase productivity – which is especially important amongst the increased distractions at home. But what exactly should this clothing be? Research suggests its more down to personal appraisals. Sense of clothing appropriateness for an individual’s job role influences their perceptions of their quality of role-performance (Solomon & Schloper, 1982). By feeling more responsible, professional and knowledgeable when properly dressed, it will inevitably lead to greater work outcomes (Kwon, 1994a). These aren’t necessarily always subjective too. Like formal language, formal clothing implies that a situation is not a casual or familiar one. This encourages deeper, more perceptive thinking which for many, is an important skill while working (Slepian, Ferber, Gold & Rutchick, 2015). It also helps to strike a greater work-life balance by distinguishing personal roles through dress. Physically dressing differently when working from home can help to embody an occupational role over a non-occupational one, such as a parent, wife or husband, and detach from the duties that come with these (Rafaeli, Dutton, Harquail, and Mackie-Lewis, 1997). 

With this in mind, ultimately, working from home can be most effective when wearing something that is different from your everyday attire but still comfortable and you feel good in. Getting ready for the day as you normally would whether it’s to study at university or work in an office can be both physically and psychologically beneficial, encouraging productivity and detachment from the distractions the home environment presents. What is most important, however, is being able to switch off. It is easy to lose sight of the day’s structure at home – scheduling in regular breaks and switching off in the evenings will promote the greatest productivity and emotional wellbeing. Outfits can be one way to help segregate work and home life. Changing out of your work clothes and back into the loungewear you worked so hard to undress from that morning will allow your mind and body to shift back from a work to home context.  

Meta description: Your decision about your work from home attire is even more crucial when the way you dress impacts your productivity levels.

Lingerie is a somewhat stigmatised and misunderstood form of apparel. Many people feel uncomfortable and embarrassed when faced with the topic of undergarments. However, the lingerie we choose to wear can in fact act as a form of self-expression – much like the shoes, bags and jewellery that accompany our outfits. Investing time to focus on ourselves and selecting items that flatter and honour our bodies can improve mental wellbeing, such as through increasing confidence and improving mood (The Independent). So why do so many people fear it?

Cora Harrington photographed by Bria Celest

As a form of fashion, lingerie has similar powers in portraying who we are at our core, yet it is often overlooked. 

Cora Harrington from ‘The Lingerie Addict’ emphasises the importance of valuing lingerie for whoever chooses to wear it.

She explains how “the garments closest to your skin should not only be the most comfortable, they should, ideally, be something you love and enjoy wearing”. As the “first thing you put on in the morning and the last thing you take off in the evening”, lingerie provides a “foundation to your look”. 

If we don’t feel good from underneath our visible clothes, how can we be portraying the best version of ourselves?

Furthermore, lingerie is not bound by social boundaries and expectations. Society influences the garments we wear, through imposing dress-codes and implicit rules of what is deemed publicly acceptable. This can lead to a lack of authenticity when trying to express the self through immediate appearance. However, lingerie is free from such constraints. Even if the world requires an ingenuine face to be put forward, respite can be found in knowing that what is worn underneath reflects the person you really are. This can also give people confidence in radiating their true self, through the uniform that disguises it. 

Lingerie has been a salient part of history. It has reflected key attitude changes, most notably towards women. From the corset culture that categorised the 1800s to the silky slip dresses and chemises in the early 1900s and the hyper-sexualised lacey styles that featured in the 70s and 80s. Today, lingerie is better perceived as a way to empower rather than objectify – with an array of styles suited for all shapes and sizes, regardless of who you identify as. 

Cora Harrington's book In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie

But despite this freedom, there still seems to be a significant stigma around lingerie. 

Many hold onto the belief that fundamentally, lingerie is sexual. Yet, it doesn’t necessarily have to be worn with sexual intent. Cora explains how “lingerie can be sexual in the same that red lipstick can be sexual, but that doesn’t mean lingerie is inherently or singularly about sex”. And although the lingerie industry is opening up to the idea of more inclusive forms of undergarments, a gendered stigma is still attached. As a historically characteristic form of female fashion, today lingerie is still marketed primarily with women in mind. These assumptions are entrenched into society, so significant revision and education may be necessary to update the lingerie market and match it to more modern movements. 

Although the lingerie industry is yet to accommodate some areas of the market, others have been enhanced greatly over the last decade. One example is the development of styles to suit a range of body shapes and sizes. The availability of intimate apparel that fits and flatters all figures has positive impacts on self-expression. Allowing more people to readily purchase products that fit their bodies, just as they are, portrays the idea that they are accepted by society. Cora recommends brands such as Elomi, Curvy Couture and Playful Promises (specifically, the Gabi Fresh collection) when it comes to finding lingerie that suits a range of sizes, while remaining stylish. 

Indeed, purchasing lingerie can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. 

When asked what piece of advice she would give to someone investing in their first piece of ‘special’ lingerie, Cora writes “If a pair of fancy fishnets feels special to you, buy that. If a silk caftan feels special to you, buy that. Don’t feel like you have to restrict yourself to other people’s notions of ‘special’.” Try setting stigmas to one side and buy what you love, not what you think you should love. Whether it is sexy or simple, lace or cotton, patterned or plain, what is most important is that you feel comfortable and confident in what you’re wearing. 

Wearing lingerie doesn’t have to be feared, but rather embraced. As Cora emphasises “feeling comfortable in your body as you move through the world is a benefit that cannot be underestimated, because if you’re not having to think about how much you hate your bra, you can focus on other things instead.” Lingerie can have an important role in the road towards self-acceptance, and ultimately, help us to feel proud and confident enough in ourselves, to express exactly who we are.