Shakaila Forbes-Bell


I was so delighted to speak with Katie Attardo for Marie Claire about how we are approaching fashion after the pandemic. Including the many shifts in how and what we are choosing to shop, from trends to comfort dressing.

“Clothing can be used to mitigate our moods, to evoke nostalgia, to ground us in our political and religious beliefs and so much more, all of which involve copious mental processes located in various parts of the brain.”

“The pandemic has also shifted the way trends are formed from trickle down to trickle up. Rather than being largely dictated by fashion seasons, consumers are looking closer to home and on their social media feeds as a source for inspiration. By engaging in mindful shopping practices consumers can ensure that they are buying what they truly value and avoid the trappings of retail therapy and instant gratification both on and offline.”

“Comfort has remained an important fixture in our wardrobe and that’s something many will find hard to relinquish anytime soon. Workwear will be more functional than before with elevated loungewear pieces taking centre stage.” 

Please read the article here.  

I had a super interesting conversation with Lara Williams for Bloomberg’s about the challenges of embracing sustainable practices while being highly invested in social media. 

“More sustainable fashion practices like slow fashion, or buying less, almost runs in opposition with everything that social media really is, which is quick, fast, shiny and new.” 

Do you think being constantly exposed to outfit inspiration makes it harder for you to buy less? Find the full piece here

A proper ‘pinch me’ moment. This one has been on my bucket list for quite some time! I couldn’t be happier to share that I’ve been profiled for Forbes Women! When I started my journey with Fashion is Psychology I had one main goal: to spread awareness about a little known discipline that fascinated me. I’m not a stylist, I’m not a label whore or a fashion curator. I’m someone that has a deep, psychological understanding of how clothing impacts the way we navigate through this world; how it makes us feel, act, connect and engage with ourselves and those around us. Never could I have imagined that I would be able to work with so many amazing brands, speak to first class publications and have a global readership. I’m excited to see so many people come to understand that Fashion Psychology is the key to a more ethical, sustainable and mindful relationship with our wardrobe.

A huge thanks to Cheryl Robinson for the write up and pr extraordinaire Antonia Fagbohun.

“When you start adding meaning to certain clothing, you embody that. People do that when they wear certain clothes in a lot of different situations, specifically in the working environment. … Subconsciously, they wear clothes to help them navigate different situations, help them embody specific trades, help them feel more confident, happier, or even more comfortable. A lot of times, that kind of decision and that motivation is operating below levels of consciousness.” 

“It’s very interesting that there are associations that you have, especially like across racial lines as well. For a lot of ethnic minorities, you grow up to think, ‘Look your absolute best. You have to dress as an authority.’ You have to overcompensate by making yourself look extremely presentable. But then you look at all of these white Silicon Valley kinds of guys, and they’re seen as almost the pinnacle of success and their wardrobe is hoodies and t-shirts. That’s a status symbol in itself. But then maybe someone who was a minority wearing that would be looked down on.”

“We all operate on this thing called heuristics, which is like a mental roadmap of things that you associate with. People will operate based on those heuristics. So if we have experience of someone who’s dressed down, we associate that with maybe something really cool or edgy, or something that’s like streetwear and very authentic. We have that association already in our head based on our previous experiences based on culture, society, etc. Then if we encounter somebody who’s dressed like that, we’re going to ascribe those traits to that person…”

Please read the full article here.

I was thrilled to share my insights on Dopamine Dressing and Colour Psychology with Harpers Bazaar. Science has proven that the associations we have with our clothing can influence the way we feel, so, it is extremely important to bear this in mind!

“The link between colour and emotions is tricky because cultural interpretations of colour impact the emotions that arise when wearing them. For example, in Western cultures, white is associated with purity and fresh starts, whereas in Eastern and Asian cultures, white is linked with death and mourning.”

“The theory of ‘enclothed cognition’ teaches us that the attributes we associate with specific clothes are incredibly powerful. When we wear these clothes, the associations have the power to change the way we feel and even change the way we act. So, for example, if you associate a yellow jumper with happiness, then you will embody that feeling of happiness when you wear it.”

“Add more of your favourite colours into your wardrobe – the colours that remind you of a happier time, a place or a person… Figure out what you associate with confidence and joy – and wear it!”

Make sure to read the full article here.

I loved discussing why wearing pyjamas to work from home could have a negative impact on your mindset with Prudence Wade for the Belfast Telegraph. 

“Enclothed cognition essentially suggests that we embody the meanings we associate with our clothes. For example, would you feel more active and ready to workout if you put on a pair of trainers or if you put on a pair of dress shoes? The same logic applies to your daily attire. You’re more likely to feel productive and ready to tackle the day ahead if you wear a clean and presentable outfit, than if you stay in pyjamas all day.”

“The same way we associate clean and presentable clothing with work and productivity, is the same way we associate pyjamas with relaxation and sleep,” she says. “Staying in your pyjamas all day can force you into a perpetual state of inactivity, and studies have shown that a lack of stimulation has been proven to negatively affect your mental health.”

Check out the full piece here

One of my favourite interviews latetly was one I did with the lovely Faran Krentcil for The Newsette. I spoke about a question I get asked a lot ‘how did you get into Fashion Psychology’. When I stop and think, this was really something that was on the cards for me for a while. Ever since I was stressing the hell out about whether to study fashion design or psychology and my mum simply said ‘do both’ I never looked back. I’m loving being part of a growing community of fashion psychologists and can’t wait until everyone and their grandad knows exactly what Fashion psychology is!

Here are a couple of questions from the interview:

How did you get your job?

“I studied psychology at University College London. Because they’re so rigorous in their program, they wanted to push everyone into clinical psychology, which is very traditional. But I found myself leaning towards social psychology, asking, “Why do people do what they do in certain environments? How can we understand people’s behavior depending on their social scene?” Plus, even though I was studying psych, I was so obsessed with fashion. From a very young age, my mum and I would make clothes for my dolls. As much of a nerd as I was at school—and believe me, I was a real nerd!—it was a real toss-up between becoming a psychologist and a fashion designer. But I thought psychology was a “safer” career path at first.”

Can fashion psychology help us become more sustainable?

“Oh, definitely… You know, when I was in school, I knew sustainable labels were important but I had 2 big barriers: I couldn’t afford most of it—no matter how much I love Stella McCartney!—and I’m a curvier woman, so fit was so important, and not always available in my size. I wanted to understand a different way to be sustainable, which is how I found “mindful shopping.” You take purchasing something a bit more seriously. You ask, “How does this make me feel? What do I want it for? How will I wear it? Does it have a short shelf life? Do I agree with what this brand stands for? Do I love how it feels?” And by engaging in that kind of shopping, you’re being more sustainable, too, because you’re more likely to re-wear and even repair something with an emotional connection. That’s been proven.”

I had an interesting conversation with Chavie Lieber for the Business of fashion about my predictions for playful pieces after last year.

“We want to buy bright, child-like pieces that make us feel hopeful during very dark moments. People are desperate to inject a sense of fun and playfulness into their wardrobe after a year of lockdowns and sweatpants.” 

Take a read in full here.

I was so pleased to share my insight into the psychology of Lingerie for HuffPost, including how they freedom they offer can be therapeutic. 

“Our outfits are typically bound by cultural and societal norms, meaning that we don’t always have the freedom to express our specific tastes through our everyday styles.”

“Lingerie sets, on the other hand, do not have to conform to such norms because they are for our eyes only, or for the eyes of our partners. This freedom can be therapeutic for the wearer as it allows them to wear sets in styles that are a true reflection of their creativity and personal tastes.”

Take a read of the piece in full here.

I was delighted to speak with Glamour once again and share my insights into fragrance as a sensory escape.

“Lockdown has really proven to be a double-edged sword. Not only are we mentally struggling with the likelihood of people experiencing irritability, sleep disturbance, decreased libido and depression increased, we’ve also missed out on the psychological benefits of travelling. Research has shown that foreign travel boosts your energy, improves cognition and promotes interpersonal growth.”

“Smell is one of our most powerful senses as it plugs into our limbic system – the part of the brain linked to instincts and emotions.” We can utilise fragrances to transport us to different times and places due to the ability of our sense of smell to evoke strong memories. Scents that remind you of a cherished time and place will be especially powerful. Think of the smell of the hotel you stayed at in Jamaica or the restaurant you ate at in Italy, those scents will transport you back to those places, allowing you to escape the confinement of our current realities.” 

Check out the full piece here!