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With the world facing a turbulent time, many of us have been experiencing physical signs of our stress, and one particularly pertinent change is in our skin. 

You may be perplexed by your so-called ‘lockdown acne’ but there’s a reason why your skin isn’t on top form right now. By spending more time at home our skin is inevitably exposed to less pollution and we’ve had more time than ever to dedicate to our skincare routines – so why is it taking a downturn? Here’s a couple of reasons why:

Hormones

Our skin is extremely sensitive to its surroundings, but it’s not only what our skin encounters on the outside that affects its condition; how we feel on the inside can have an impact too. Following environmental changes, our bodies are prone to enter a stress response. This response causes an influx of hormones like cortisol, which cease non-essential functions as your body enters a fight-or-flight response. While this would have been beneficial for the survival of our ancestors, in modern, less threatening circumstances the consequences to this reaction can add to our worries! As cortisol causes inflammation of the skin, and the skin glands to produce more oil,  it in turn becomes more acne-prone too.

The way stress indirectly impacts your skin

Poor Sleep

Nevertheless, there are more indirect impacts of stress that can also be affecting your skin. Poorer sleep is a common consequence of stress, with people reporting less sleep, more disturbances, and lower sleep efficiency (Kim & Dimsdale, 2007). With it being well-established that sleep is incredibly important for our bodies to rest and repair, interruptions to our sleep pattern inevitably make it harder to combat precursors to our skin troubles. For example, compared to poor sleepers, good sleepers showed less skin aging, better recovery from skin irritation or redness, and better perception of their appearance (Oyetakin‐White et al, 2014). Therefore, prioritising something as simple as sleep could help to contribute towards healthier skin and more positive self-perceptions even if the skin is troubled.

Poor Diet

Stress is also intrinsically linked to diet quality; the more stressed we feel, the worse the quality of our diet becomes (De Vriendt et al, 2012). While some of us have a propensity to over-indulge as a result of stress in order to comfort ourselves, others tend to restrain their eating and instead snack of highly processed, convenient foods (Wardle, Steptoe, Oliver & Lipsey, 2000). With our skin being extremely responsive to the food we consume, it’s likely that dietary changes during a period of stress can also contribute to changes in the skin.

3 things you can do to rescue your skin

If you too have been experiencing skin troubles during a stressful period, you can make a few simple changes to bring it back to life.

1.     Relaxation  

Taking just ten minutes a day to focus on yourself and be in the present moment can do wonders when it comes to relieving stress. Practicing yoga, meditation or mindfulness can help to ground the mind and bring things back into perspective when they feel a little out of control.

2.     Consistency

Maintaining a simple, sensitive skincare routine can provide your skin with the nourishment it needs to help it recover. Try to use unperfumed, natural products in order to avoid further irritation.

3.     Diet

Try to be mindful of the types and quantities of food you are consuming when you know you are facing a stressful period. As over and undereating can prevent the skin from making a speedy recovery, it may be helpful to plan meals in advance so you can assess the quantity and quality of what you will be consuming. Research has found a link between consuming foods with a high glycaemic load (e.g. sweets and chocolate) with the exacerbation of acne. Nevertheless, don’t be afraid to treat yourself to these as they can also provide a short-term mood boost

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. 

It is no secret that our society is dictated by prejudices and discriminatory behaviours that we may not even be aware we are endorsing. Unfortunately amongst many others, the fashion industry reflects a ‘white privilege’ and it has even been suggested that ‘racism is at the heart of fast fashion’. A single glance up your local Highstreet or quick google search makes it immediately evident that the vast majority of both affordable and high-end designers are white and accommodate primarily white individuals. Little further reflection will also reveal how utterly absurd this underrepresentation is. Since when did, or should, the colour of someone’s skin determine their creativity, talent or potential? 

These attitudes are incredibly damaging to current and aspiring fashion professionals, but by simply becoming more aware of who we choose to buy from, real differences can begin to emerge.

With this in mind, we have created a collection of 22 black-owned brands that we believe deserve a little more love. There should be something to suit all styles and budgets, so consumers at every level can experience the fashion industry’s hidden talents.

Affordable

Offering non-toxic, cruelty-free nail-polishes that are individually made, 516 Polish is an ethical, sustainable brand. They pioneer ‘swatch diversity’ by providing product samples on a variety of skin tones and have specially formulated products that complement customers of all ethnicities. 

Boucléme creates British-based, cruelty-free and plant-based products that enhance natural curls. Their easy-to-follow 3-step regime encourages women to feel empowered rather than embarrassed by their curls. 

Selling sunglasses and jewellery that are inspired by North African heritage, this accessories label aims to create trendy yet timeless pieces.

Founded in a small New York apartment, Fanm Djanm (meaning ‘strong women’) is an accessory-based store best known for its bright and bold headwraps. Each piece is handmade in Brooklyn using sustainably sourced fabrics.

Cruelty-free cosmetics inspired by 80s and 90s music culture are what MDM Flow are best known for. From multi-use ‘glossy pots’, to lip products in a range of natural and experimental shades, this beauty brand has the potential to create fun, fresh and funky looks that take you from day to night. 

Selling beautifully crafted yet affordable 14k gold-plated jewellery, Saint Kojo is a hidden gem. If the elegant aesthetic is enough, they also use a portion of profits to educate and empower disadvantaged women in Africa. 

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✨✨✨ 📸 :@jenloumeredith

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This London-based brand celebrates diversity through it’s simple yet sexy garments that represent individuals of all ethnicities. At its heart, Sincerely Nude hopes to ‘break stereotypes one shade at a type’ by raising the awareness and accessibility of a more inclusive industry.

Vitae London incorporates ‘minimalist watch design with maximal social justice’. Working closely with charities throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, each watch purchase provides a child with life-changing educational supplies. Their classic designs come in a range of metal colours and materials to create a bespoke timepiece. 

Premium

Andrea Iyamah is a clothing line ‘inspired by nature, inspired by colour, ethnic cultures, nature and design elements that stay true to creating authentic clothing’. Started by Nigerian designer Dumebi Iyamah at the age of 17, it hopes to modernise and embrace traditional African cuts and colours to create unique garments that make a statement.

Nalé’s designers are inspired by different aspects of travel, culture or the simplistic beauties of everyday living. This luxury womenswear brand is characterised by its appreciation of diversity, allowing consumers to learn about cultures all over the world.

Nubian Skin provides lingerie, hosiery and swimwear that aims to cater for consumers of all skin tones. Their founder Ade Hassan, MBE wanted to redefine the industry’s narrow representation of ‘nude’ undergarments, which seemed to disregard a significant proportion of the market – most notably women of colour.

Edgy streetwear in bold patterns and prints are at the core of Phlemuns. For those who want to elevate their everyday pieces and invest in stand-out sweats, their collections will not fail to make a statement.

Starting in Trinidad and Tobago in 1979, Sacha Cosmetics values the ethnic diversity of their consumers. They aim to formulate high-quality products for all individuals, regardless of race. Something all beauty brands should aim to do too.

Blending contemporary and traditional techniques, Tihara Smith is a recent graduate who creates fun and fresh fashion accessories. Inspired by her Caribbean heritage and London upbringing, Tihara creates unique pieces that allow her customers to carry a piece of the Caribbean with them.

Luxury

Aurora James founded this luxury accessory company in 2013 to help maintain traditional African designs and techniques. Each piece is inspired by an aspect of different cultures worldwide, ensuring a range of heritage styles are kept alive within the fashion industry. Using traditional practices in the production process, Brother Vellies ensures artisanal jobs are sustained and the manual craftsmanship involved is still acknowledged.

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Tyla Sandals • Summertime fine 🤎🦢

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With an array of luxury ready-to-wear and bridal women’s wear, Cushnie has something to offer the modern woman for every occasion. Designer Carly Cushnie creates timeless, minimalistic pieces with a fine attention to detail, all of which encourage women to feel both elegant and powerful.

Described as “a contemporary Ready-to-Wear apparel line for Women Without Limits”, Hanifa designs each of its garments with women of all shapes and sizes in mind. Ruffles, ruching, pleats and puffy sleeves best describe the brand’s aesthetic which collectively form figure-flattering, femeine and elegant pieces that undoubtedly suit every type of body.  

In recognition of the nude-shoe market’s poor diversity, Kahmune was formed. The luxury footwear is constructed from sourced, premium Italian leather, making their shoes a life-long investment. Each piece is available in 10 shades which are inspired by the global ethnic diversity, allowing every customer to find their staple nude shoe.  

Mateo New York is a fine jewellery designer founded by self-taught Matthew Harris who was born and raised in Montenegro Bay, Jamaica. Describing their collections as having an ‘aesthetic of simplicity and minimalism’, their collections are designed with modern women and art in mind. With the delicate use of diamonds, pearls and precious stones each piece conveys a sense of natural elegance.

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🌸 🌸🌸🌸🌸

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Specialising in ready-to-wear and bespoke jumpsuits, Rebecca Tembo ensures each client has a personalised, luxury shopping experience. All pieces are made one at a time using sustainable methods. She also founded The Entry, a course which aims to help aspiring start-up designers to build their brand and develop entrepreneurial skills.

Established in 2005 by Telfar Clemens, an undergraduate student born to Liberian parents in New York, Telfar is a pioneer of unisex fashion. Driven by its core value of inclusivity, the fashion brand is known to promote contemporary garments in ways that stand against the fashion industry’s historical discrimination and misrepresentation of non-white ethnicites.

The Folklore is an online concept store that sells a limited selection of pieces from African designers in order to promote their work and improve their financial success. Their curated collections represent ‘the diversity of Africa’s contemporary urban landscapes and design aesthetic’ and allow people online access to the African fashion industry that previously relied primarily on remote, local selling. If you’re after a one-of-a-kind piece, this is the place to look. 

What are your favourite Black-owned businesses? Comment below or tweet us @fashionispsychology

With Fashion Psychology being a relatively new, up-and-coming area of research, study and work, it is perhaps no surprise that we regularly receive questions from our readers and fashion psychology enthusiasts alike.

Making the field of fashion psychology more accessible to the general public is one of the central aims of this platform and sharing what we learn and know with our readers in an interesting and engaging way is incredibly important.

So, with this in mind and due to popular demand, last month, we hosted our first live Q&A with Fashion Psychologist and founder of Fashion Is Psychology, Shakaila Forbes-Bell.

You can watch the recording of the event below, where Shakaila discusses her journey in Fashion Psychology and we cover topics ranging from, what fashion psychology is, how you can work in or study fashion psychology and the important qualities successful fashion psychologists may hold. 

If you have any further queries or topics you would like us to discuss, leave them in the comments below, or let us know on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and we will include them in a future Q&A or similar event.

Finally, thank you again to those of you who showed interest in, or came to the event – it was a great success and was lovely to see your faces and discuss all-things fashion psychology with you all!

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

In part 1 of our psychology of scents series, we revealed that fragrances hold far more significance in our lives we may initially realise. They are inevitably a fundamental aspect of human existence; we have an enormous implicit, as well as explicit, reliance on our sensory experiences in our everyday lives. With this in mind, in part 2 of our series, we asked three fragrance-industry experts: Anne Churchill, a sensory researcher at Givaudan, Suzy Nightingale, senior writer for The Perfume Society and Karen Gilbert, founder of and perfumery teacher at Karen Gilbert 5 questions to help you nail your next fragrance purchase 

psychology scent fragrance
L-R: Suzy Nightingale,Karen Gilbert, Anne Churchill

1. Why are scents so important?

SUZY: We know that we used to rely on our sense of smell for survival, that even though we may no longer use that sense to detect predators, still when we use a fragrance, it directly plugs into our limbic system – that part of our brain linked to instincts and emotions. Using a fragrance is much more than merely smelling clean or fresh – soap does a good job of that. They can immediately remind us of people we’ve loved and lost, of places we’ve travelled, make us feel more powerful or relaxed: and all in an instant! Your reaction to a perfume bypasses logic – you don’t intellectualise your response, it can feel like being punched in the solar plexus.

At the perfume society, we regularly get emails and calls from people desperately trying to track down their beloved grandmother’s favourite fragrance or wanting to find a new perfume to boost their confidence or help them feel less stressed.

During our (pre-COVID-19) How to Improve Your Sense of Smell workshops, we asked people to blind-smell scents and give us their immediate emotional reactions. Some people would smile joyously and laugh as they suddenly recalled a happy memory. Others burst into tears as they felt unsettled but couldn’t think why, or a scent reminded them of a loved one. A scent is an invisible accessory that can say something quite different than your physical appearance. Fragrances are the link between Art and Science, for me. The closest thing we can get to actual alchemy or time travel.

The current pandemic will create a trend for fresh, clean natural fragrances and scents that enhance our sense of safety and wellbeing. 

2. What are the main motivators in fragrance selections?

ANNE: People often pick a scent that reminds them of a positive memory, a relative, any association that brings them back to a joyous time. A lot of the way we feel about scents is through learning and we see this even in infants. If a mother has a preference for a certain scent when pregnant, the baby will respond positively to that scent once born!

It’s worth noting these positive associations are extremely personal and can differ in different cultures depending on the environments you’ve been exposed to. Your brain gets used to smells around you which is why you may no longer smell your favourite perfume, fabric softener or clothes. 

SUZY: We’re noticing an increasing number of people exploring ‘niche’ (smaller, independent and artisanal) houses. People want to smell unique, so we are seeing lots of bespoke blends, and even bigger brands offering personalised services and personality-led quizzes to ‘match’ people to their perfect scent. 

Our own Fragrance Finder computer algorithm at the Perfume Society uses key emotion-based words along with the fragrant ingredients listed, to help guide people to discovering six new fragrances based on a current favourite. Because finding a new fragrance isn’t just about how you want to smell, it’s about how you want to *feel*.  Gendered fragrances are a marketing construct – men and women both happily wore violet and rose and musk and orange blossom for centuries. And now we’ve seen the majority of niche houses move away from ‘men’s’ or ‘women’s’ classifications, even going beyond the ‘unisex’ term and preferring ‘gender-less’ or ‘gender-free’. Guerlain called their Lui fragrance ‘gender fluid’ while Gucci described their Mémoure d’Une Odeur as ‘gender-neutral.’

Karen Gilberts book 'Perfume - The Art and Craft of Fragrance'

3. What factors cause changes in perfume buying habits?

KAREN: My clients are usually looking to create their own fragrances, and this is often related to an occasion. Many people buy a 1-day perfume class as a gift and some have created occasion-specific scents. Wedding scents are really popular as people want something memorable for their special day.

ANNE: People choose different fragrances to mark different occasions but they also tend to choose fragrances to suit their environment and mood. For example, people are drawn to citrus fragrances when they want to feel invigorated and happy. Perfumes can be crafted to place people in various moods. 

In economic downturns we often see a rise of nostalgic and comforting scents, things that remind us of happier, more carefree times or help us feel cosy

4. Does the fragrance industry follow trends?

SUZY: Trends do influence the fragrance industry, just as fashion trends filter through to everything in culture, eventually. One year we might see brightly coloured or blinged-out bottles, the next they may be plain and paired-back. In economic downturns we often see a rise of nostalgic and comforting scents, things that remind us of happier, more carefree times or help us feel cosy – with bottles harking back to ‘retro’ styles, or incorporating touchy-feely elements such as soft, stroke-able textures on the bottles or box packaging.

Last year we saw a rise in so-called ‘solar’ scents – fragrances using orange blossom, neroli and petit grain to evoke sunshine captured in a bottle. I think it’s because of the uncertain political climate – people were looking for an instant shot of happiness in a scent! I think happiness and comfort will be trends for some time to come, the way things are going.

KAREN: If you look back at 20th-century history you can see a direct influence of global trends on the fragrance industry. The big brash scents of the ’80s were followed by more transparent marine scents in the ’90s and the ’00s was the era of the celebrity scent. In recent times we have seen more natural, sustainable and gender-neutral scents that reflect our times. I imagine that the current pandemic will create a trend for fresh, clean natural fragrances and scents that enhance our sense of safety and wellbeing.

5. What advice would give someone choosing a new fragrance?

ANNE: Be aware of your “personal skin smell”, your skin biology affects fragrances so the same perfume will smell differently on different people due to their skin type, pH level etc. Make sure you test your favourite scents on your skin and no one else’s. 

KAREN: Make sure you do research on your favourite fragrances beforehand. Use blogs like  Fragrantica, Bois de Jasmin and Perfume Shrine to guide you but take reviews with a pinch of salt as fragrance selection is a very personal thing. 

SUZY: Try things without looking at the list of ingredients – really give them time to develop on your skin. You need to live with a scent for several hours to truly experience it as the differing molecules evaporate at different rates. We’ve seen sales of our Discovery Boxes rise by an astonishing percentage because people are looking to treat themselves and try new scents they might never have thought about or heard of before. 

I always encourage people to start with a fragrance they know they love and look up the name of the perfumer – these ‘noses’ often have a signature style just as any other artist or maker does – and try some of their other creations. But most of all: be brave! The joy of a scent is they can be washed off if you genuinely dislike them – but oh there’s a world of wonders to discover out there. Life is too short to simply smell ‘nice’. I want everyone to find those scents that make you gasp, that make your eyes roll back in your head with pleasure, that make you crave to wear them and feel instantly better when you do. They’re just waiting for you to find them… 

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:

All dressed up with nowhere to go. That’s been me at least once per week since lockdown started. On this blog, we’ve gone on and on about the power of comfort dressing. One of the (very) few good things this pandemic has given us is the ability to be comfortable daily. However, and I can’t stress this enough, giving up the glam life is not recommended. 

Read more: Can loungewear make you better at your job?

Your clothes can help you experience different realities

Although we are limited by things like cultural norms and money, your clothes are still a powerful tool of self-expression. They can help you enhance certain aspects of your identity and even embrace traits you never knew existed in you. You should think of your clothes as a roadmap that helps you navigate these different realities but what you may not know is that your clothes can also help you escape your current reality. 

We’re currently living through one of the most trying times of our lives. Around the globe, people have lost their jobs, their loved ones and any sense of normalcy due to COVID-19. You may be trying to simply get on with it but it’s important to develop strategies, no matter how small, to help you take your mind away from the doom, gloom and uncertainty and one way to do that is by playing dress-up. 

Femme Luxe Black Tie Front Organza Mesh Sleeve Crop Top - Dash
Top (gifted): Femme Luxe Black Tie Front Organza Mesh Sleeve Crop Top, Jeans: River Island wide leg jeans in light blue

Playing dress-up is a form of escapism

Playing dress-up is not just for kids. Doing a full face of make-up, styling your hair and wearing a sultry dress are all acts of playing dress-up because right now, the places we would normally showcase these looks are restricted. Engaging in these acts when you’re stuck at home can seem ridiculous but it can also constitute a powerful force that can positively affect your mental wellbeing.  

Recently, a friend of mine remarked that she felt silly for wanting to buy a new pair of heels that caught her eye. I’ll tell you what I told her – there’s no need to completely suppress your shopping habits even though right now they may seem out of the ordinary. Studies have shown that “extraordinary” shopping experiences can be cathartic and can act as a break from daily habits that too often leave us feeling stressed and underwhelmed. We’ve all become increasingly aware of sustainability and the damaging effects of overconsumption. So, rather than regularly whipping out your credit card, you can mix in a few new pieces with those that haven’t seen the light of day since lockdown. The most important thing is that you make playing dress-up your new weekly ritual. 

Fashion psychology
Top: John Zack velvet cowl front top in lime

Certain clothing styles can release tensions

Wearing clothes that are a far cry from the hustle and bustle of everyday life act as a symbol for you leaving that life behind, even for a few hours. Studies have shown that people have fun by simply engaging in the act of wearing outlandish, sexy or even eccentric outfits which contributes to a feeling of escapism because “clothes in themselves carry this tensions release dimension”. 

Femme Luxe Emerald Bardot Cowl Neck Ruched Midi Dress - Malia
Dress (gifted) Femme Luxe Emerald Bardot Cowl Neck Ruched Midi Dress - Malia

We’re living in highly politicized times when even wearing a mask (please wear a mask) is seen as a form of social commentary and frankly, it’s tiring. Ultimately, your clothes should be an area of your life that brings joy. While comfort is important, you should attempt to get ‘all dressed up’ at least once in a while to embrace the power of your wardrobe to help you escape the bleaknesses of your day-to-day life; even if you have nowhere to go and even if it’s just for a little while. 

In the comments, let me know what pieces you’ve missed wearing this year.

If you asked anyone to describe what loungewear is their first remark would be “it’s comfortable”. Professor Lubos Hes defines clothing comfort as “a state of satisfaction indicating physiological, psychological, and physical balance among the person.” Doesn’t that sound lovely? Loungewear often features stretchy and soft fabric that induces a state of comfort, one that is typically absent when we wear day to day clothes like suits and jeans but what impact does this have on our ability to do our jobs?

How leggings became the new jeans

Since COVID-19 shook the world upside down many have us will be working from home for the foreseeable future. In the absence of a restrictive work environment, every day is casual Friday. In the UK, loungewear sales have jumped a whopping 49% since lockdown. In the states, 56% of adults have admitted to incorporating more loungewear into their daily styles but some people have taken their affinity for loungewear one step further. A survey found that 1 in 8 Americans would rather have a casual office dress code than being paid an extra $5K annually! On the surface that sounds pretty insane but when you think about the psychological impact of comfort dressing, it makes sense.

Femme Luxe Stone Rib Two Piece Loungewear Set - Aloranna
Outfit (gifted): Femme Luxe Stone Rib Two Piece Loungewear Set

If you feel good, you’ll think good...

Loungewear may be the key to you killing it at work. One study revealed that comfortable clothing can enhance cognitive performance. Psychologists Bell, Cardello and Schutz investigated the relationship between clothing comfort and exam performance in students. The results revealed that students who wore more formal clothing had a lower comfort level and ultimately, a lower test score. Think about an outfit you love that’s completely uncomfortable. Although it might make you feel amazing and powerful, the physical discomfort is a distractor causing a cognitive overload that prevents you from giving your all to any task at hand. The extra cognitive boost you get from comfort dressing could be the missing key to that commendation or even that promotion. 

But if you feel good AND look good, you’ll be unstoppable

Feeling comfortable is one thing but looking good at the same time can have a major positive impact. Fashion Psychology research has shown that positive feelings about your clothes change the way you think about yourself in numerous ways. Most importantly, it can change your perception about how good you are at your job while negative feelings about your clothes can make you feel incompetent.

Femme Luxe Grey Marl Off The Shoulder Loungewear Set - Imana
Outfit (gifted): Femme Luxe Grey Marl Off The Shoulder Loungewear Set - Imana

No matter how comfortable you are, if you think negatively about an outfit, chances are you will act in accordance with your negative assumptions. With that being said, you shouldn’t spend your workday in holey leggings and stained hoodies. Invest in a core set of loungewear essentials that both feel good and look good. Not only will these pieces make you feel positive about your capabilities it will help you to crush any curve balls that come your way. 

Have you witnessed your productivity levels change by wearing more loungewear pieces? Let us know in the comments below.