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 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!