Shakaila Forbes-Bell


I was delighted to speak to Mail+ about the way people relate to their clothing, ‘Dopamine Dressing’ and escapism in a post pandemic era.

The pandemic ‘has caused a shift in the way people relate to their clothing, so it’s less about “how does this look” and more about “how does this make me feel”, both psychologically and physically.’

‘People really use clothing as a tool to help them alleviate certain negative emotions, to improve their wellbeing. When you wear an outfit that makes you feel happy, you get a rush and that rush is linked to the chemical dopamine, which is released in the pre-frontal cortex.’
It may not be time to relegate loungewear to the back of the wardrobe just yet, though Shakaila Forbes-Bell admits that while ‘you have the bold dressers that are utilising outlandish creative styles as a means of escapism… to free themselves of loungewear pieces that can feel like a uniform,’ she also admits that most of us ‘will operate somewhere in the middle – wearing clothes that make us feel comfortable, but that say something about ourselves and our creativity’.

Watch the interview here and check out the fascinating insights from Nicole Ocran, Vicki Kalb and myself.

Super grateful to be profiled in The Independent in a brilliant write up by Andy Martin on how our relationship with clothing has evolved over time.

“I hate the idea of having a signature style,” says Forbes-Bell. “One day I can be a Caribbean carnival queen – another day I can be a scholar or a business woman – or boho chic.” The two photographs included here (above) make the point vividly. Pre-pandemic, she went every year to the Trinidad carnival. “Clothes are a tool. You should use them to celebrate the body. Rather than hiding it.”

Take a read of the full piece here.

I spoke with Alice Porter for Stylist on what motivates us to shop and how we can shop mindfully.

“Clothes and fashion allow people to signal their identity and to communicate themselves to others. Consumers don’t just purchase clothing – they purchase lifestyles.”
“Clothes have a significant impact on our moods, desires and identity and they can change the way people perceive us.”

Click here and learn how to buy less. 

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 fourth instalment, we’ll be speaking to Fashion is Psychology’s very own Maisie Allum. 

Maisie Allum

Maisie is a passionate Psychology of Fashion undergraduate at London College of Fashion, she applies her analytical and inquisitive skills to fashion business with the aim to positively enhance wellbeing. She is also the Editorial and Social Media Assistant here at FiP! 

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

1. How do your clothes make you feel?

I suppose I aim for my clothes to make me feel good about myself! I want my outfits to enhance my body and to be empowering. Or if I’m feeling not so good they can act as a sense of comfort.

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

My most treasured item might actually be my latest buy! I think it’s because it’s the first time I’ve splashed out and brought from a small business, and I’m proud of myself for that! It’s this gorgeous Khaki velvet jumpsuit that I can dress up or down and I know I will have it for a very long time!

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

I think people would get a pretty good sense of who I am based on what I wear but I’m apprehensive to say it defines me. I probably dress more depending on my mood at the time so the clothes I choose can be varied. In some ways, they can be political because I try to avoid wearing brands that go against my morals.

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

I’d say yes! Since Covid I’ve gone months without buying anything, it has definitely made me slow down in lots of different ways! Also, I appreciate getting dressed up more, I’m sure you can relate! Having a good outfit for the park has made me so happy!

5. What are you planning on buying next?

For a while now, I’ve had in the back of my mind that when everything opens up I’d really like to invest in some more statement pieces. I want to be feeling myself once we can finally enjoy the things we’ve been robbed of again. I’ve got my eye on bright summer knitwear at the moment!

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

I was thrilled to sit down with Brian Baskin, Diana Pearl and Kayla Marci to assess the consumer landscape, talk trends and evaluate how retailers are reacting to changes in demand.

The focus on our clothes and our style is less on ‘How does this look?’ and ‘How does this aesthetic value suit the environment I’m going into?’. It’s shifted to ‘How do clothes make me feel? How can I function in this? How does this signal something specific about me?’

You can catch up on the full discussion with BOF Professional by clicking here.

I was thrilled to discuss how dressing up can be a form of self-care and escapism with Prudence Wade for The Independent.

“Whilst it’s been great to not be bound by workplace dress codes and actually dress in a way that is comfortable for you, which can be conducive to a productive day, it can start to feel limiting – almost a bit like a uniform.”

“Being able to step outside of your traditional comfort zone and dress in a different way that is not the norm, can almost act like a tool of escapism. It can help you step into a different aspect of yourself, help you embrace creativity, and help you have a bit of fun – so in that way, it can certainly be a mood booster.”

“Don’t save that special occasion dress for a special occasion, you have to make a day a special occasion by wearing those dresses.”

You can read the full piece by clicking here.

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.