‘People are afraid of being alone because they are hesitant to rely on themselves for happiness, but there is no escaping one’s self.’

Thomas Dumm

Thomas Dumm is a professor of political science, and wow, how – true – is – that? There is something about that sentence which resonates with my own and others’ experience of modelling, which has included feelings of solitude and loneliness. How is it possible to get comfortable being yourself and being on your own, when your success and happiness within your work is depending on other people’s opinion and perception of you?

Recognising loneliness

I am going to highlight two common ways of being lonely as a model; firstly, when you are physically on you own, most likely somewhere away from home, and feeling the negative implications of it. And secondly, there is the loneliness you experience when there are loads of people around you, but no one seems to register or simply care about your wellbeing. The latter one I recognise as being quite intense in modelling, as constantly working in new environments with strangers touching and pulling you can be overwhelming and surprisingly lonely.  

It wasn’t before my old psychotherapist said to me:

‘It must be so hard, to be the centre of attention, but when it comes to it no one really cares’

that I recognised it as a kind of loneliness.  Even then I remember being apprehensive towards the idea, but there really is some truth to it. The fashion industry is many things; creative, openminded, inspiring, but it is not known for looking out for the individual’s wellbeing. 

Long story short, I have never, ever felt as lonely as the times where I have been uncomfortable, anxious, tired, or unwell at work and no one really cared to take it in to consideration.

Then there is the simple element of you being on your own a lot. You just spend a surprising amount of time on your own… Everyone has heard the part of modelling where we travel the world, go to parties and work for famous clients. That’s all true and amazing, but it is also so incredibly lonely a lot of the time, as you are travelling on your own.

Travelling is by far one of the greatest perks and opportunities this job offers, but with the loneliness factored in, it creates a major contradiction within you. This is because, despite loving the travel and excitement, you sometimes cannot help yourself hating it from the bottom of your heart. I find that this loneliness often appears when you find yourself going somewhere that you do not really want to be. For example, often you must compromise important personal plans to travel for work, which creates the feeling of missing out.

Another example is perhaps you have been based in a new city for a while without having any success booking work. In the latter case, you might start blaming yourself for not being good enough, and then, once more referring to the words of Thomas Dumm, it becomes difficult to thrive in solitude.

Well then, who is out there then when I feel lonely?

On a more positive note, I have really noticed how people in the industry have started to recognise loneliness and distress in models and colleagues. There will always be a hair or make-up artist, a stylist assistant, or a photographer who ‘has your back’. Seek them out and stick to them as much as possible, do not try to go through a hard day on your own.

Moreover, I know that many models try to connect with other models when travelling and working, and I believe that this is one of the best ways to tackle loneliness – by making the effort to make friends if you can!

You may think this an obvious suggestion, but I must admit, making model friends hasn’t always been easy for me. I do not know why, perhaps it is my disinterest in mainstream fashion and social media… probably it is a longstanding apprehensiveness towards girl groups, especially big ones, formed in my adolescent years. This has probably resulted in me being lonelier than others, who knows? But I wonder if not most will be able to relate to this somehow. 

But most importantly, how to deal with myself?

When all comes to all, modelling is one big evaluation of you as the right fit for different brands, so you will need to make that extra little effort to make yourself more content and at ease, as it is hard on your self-esteem!

Because of this, I have focused on discovering self-indulgence. I always try to do the things that I want to, like going out for food and drinks while people-watching, enjoying the fact that I don’t have to compromise with anyone about what I want to do or what restaurant to eat at in my spare time. On good days like this I just love travelling solo!

However, bad days do happen, and even good days can turn into lonely days. If I get lonely, I try to call my husband, a friend, or my family.

If I don’t feel sociable, I will run a bath, buy a drink, and order a Deliveroo to my room. Indulgence has so many shapes, the important thing is that your choice of indulgence really makes you content and happy to be where you are on your own. Stop focusing on what you think you need to do, to
be liked by clients, like eating less or posting more.

It’s your time, so listen to what you need.  And just like that, you don’t feel so lonely anymore.

It’s Friday night and I am getting ready to go out out after work. Somewhere fancier than where we usually go – remarkably fancier as it goes – and so inevitably, out come the heels. 

The only problem: It has been close to two years, with lockdowns and closures, since I last gave my heels an outing. Nonetheless, I want to dress up, for the first time in a long time; to feel good, to feel confident – and I must be honest, I do.

What is it about heels?

Heels have been long desired and recognised as a symbol of power, style and strength despite the medical warnings of long term use. They communicate authority and superiority. Those who choose to wear heeled footwear (of any kind) do so for the fashion, the look and the feeling it manifests; not to mention to make that ultimate impression. Studies have revealed the unnatural body shape transformation caused by the wearing of heels not only increases judgements of female attractiveness but also increases the woman’s selection of mates. The benefits definitely seem to outweigh the risks. Here however I ask, could the wearing of heels influence perceptions of intelligence? 

In other words, do women who wear heels embody a feeling of authority which in turn affects the self-perception of their intellect?

Let’s think about this

This conversation was sparked from an article published in 2013 by totalbeauty in which they discussed as a result of wearing heels, women were more likely to make more balanced economic decisions when shopping – could this be true?

The concept of balance seems here to be key. By focusing on the ability to stand tall and steady, could this really focus the mind and perhaps explain why more level-headed decisions are made when shopping?

Studies investigating links between the aesthetic of wearing heels and the science of intellect (or perception of) are few; yet research investigating the importance of fashion and Enclothed Cognition emphasise its ability to increase feelings of self-confidence – and high heels undoubtedly tie into this.

It is the blend of self-assurance combined with self-enhancement and poise from wearing such footwear that provides reason for why, when spending with a budget in mind, women may be more likely to hold true to that financial promise. Does this ring true with you?

Uh oh… and here comes Covid-19

Now however, let’s flip this conversation on its side. As the world felt the effects of the global pandemic in 2020, offices and public places closed and working from home became the norm, heels became redundant. They sat unworn and unneeded in our wardrobes for over a year.

Then, as we felt restrictions begin to lift, for many like myself on that fateful Friday night, the inevitable day came where it was the time to sport those heels once again. Fashion trends today reflect this in their mixing of smart and casual collections easing us back to normality. Flats are having their moment in the form of slippers, pumps, and sandals for the summer, worn with loose flowing dresses and flattering wide leg trousers.  Thus, still embracing the cosy and comfy, whilst moving away from our sweatshirts and leggings we saw the pandemic play out in for over a year – although we hate to admit it.

Therefore, if heels do increase feelings of intelligence, boost the wearer’s self-confidence and self-esteem, should we give up on them completely? Whilst it has been proven that heels boost us if the past year has taught us anything its that we can still be productive and dynamic even in our comfiest pyjamas and fluffiest slippers. While heels may provide confidence for women maybe we shouldn’t be reliant on them to display a perception of our intelligence.

Come on ladies, whilst we can embrace them as a fashion tool, true intelligence should not be measured by the height of your heels.

I was delighted to be interviewed by Tara Hejazi for Mimp Mag. We discussed what Fashion Psychology truly means, post-pandemic consumer habits and much more!

“We often think of our clothes as possessions separate from ourselves when in reality, they act as a second skin helping us navigate our different realities and emotions.”
“We’re seeing more people in this demographic turn to ‘buy now, pay later’ because they can still buy the items they want, but with responsible spending in mind.”
“Pre-COVID, many people were shopping for how they felt they needed to dress based on the environment or occasion. People would typically have separate attire for things like work, going to the gym, going out to dinner and other social functions.”

“We’re seeing Afterpay users purchase items with cozy silhouettes alongside formal attire like bodysuits or pumps. Going forward, people will find themselves getting into the habit of shopping for what makes them feel good rather than what society has deemed conventionally appropriate.”

Click here to enjoy the full interview!

It’s that time of year when designers, models and industry experts are preparing to showcase six-months worth of work to the world. Although exciting and insightful, Fashion Week can be one of the busiest weeks of the year for many. Working days often exceed twelve-hours with tight deadlines, unforgiving schedules and inner-city traffic to contend with. For many, this leaves little time for self-care, rest and recovery which inevitably leads to burnout.

To help navigate the chaos of Fashion Week, here is a compilation of easy ways to manage stress and engage in some all-important ‘me time’.

1. Plan your outfits

Fashion Psychology

This may sound obvious but ensuring you days are planned as much as possible will give you structure and peace of mind that you know exactly what you are doing, where and at what time. 

 Similarly, try to plan outfits. What shows are you attending?  How much time do you have to change – and where? How long are you going to be out for; can you transition any outfits from day-to-night? Asking yourself these questions can help to narrow down options and ensure you are dressed appropriately and comfortably. 

But most importantly, pick clothes you feel great in! With cameras around what seems like every corner, it can be overwhelming. Putting the time in to prepare what you are going to wear, can help reduce stress and anxiety and even boost self-esteem. Wearing items of clothing you like and feel good in can improve psychological wellbeing, through the positive associations generated to the outfits (Adam & Galinsky, 2012). It may also help to improve sleep by ensuring you’re not lying awake until early hours of the morning, ruminating over potential outfit combinations.

2. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness exercises are often discounted, with the common perception that they’re a waste of time or require deep thought and attention – cognitive resources which seem in short supply during busy periods. Admittedly some exercises are more demanding than others, but giving yourself time in the day to ground your thoughts can be hugely beneficial (Bowlin & Baer, 2012). Something as small as listening to a podcast while commuting in-between shows (Headspace is a good one to try), practising deep breathing exercises or burning a calming candle at night can help to disengage from stressful thoughts and provide greater clarity of mind.

3. It is ok to say no

With hundreds of designers exhibiting collections throughout the week, there can be a subliminal pressure to schedule in as many shows as possible. Going against the instinct to say ‘yes’ to everyone and everything, can actually be quite empowering (Patrick & Hagtvedt, 2012) and can improve productivity and mental health (Pourjari & Zarnaghash, 2010).

 It is important to recognise your limits and be selective in the shows you choose to see. When thinking about which to attend, also try to schedule in breaks and consider (the likely longer) commuting times. There may be some changes throughout the week but limiting the number of events you attend will give you greater flexibility to adapt – and crucially, remain calm. A number of shows are now made available online too, so it is easier than ever to catch up on those you couldn’t make it to.

4. Stay fuelled

With lots of things to do, people to see and places to be, it can be easy for attention to be directed away sufficiently fuelling our bodies. One simple way to combat this is to ensure snacks are to hand at all times. Nuts, energy bars and smoothies can help to provide your body with the healthy fats, protein and vitamins it needs to keep going throughout long days. Meal-prepping in your spare time can also be an easy way to stock up on nutritious meals that simply need reheating in the evening. 

 In addition, it may be worth incorporating more specific foods into your diet, which research has found to have stress and anxiety-combatting abilities. Some examples include walnuts, bananas and chocolate which have been thought to possess antidepressant, mood-lifting and pleasure-inducing properties, respectively (Trivedi, Patel, Prajapati & Pinto, 2015). Furthermore, while a strong coffee can make early mornings a little more bearable, excess caffeine consumption can heighten anxiety (Brice & Smith, 2002), so perhaps opt for a bottle of water over a large cappuccino post-midday.  

5. Schedule in sleep

Finally, ensure you are allowing yourself enough sleep. Functioning on a sleep-deprived body and brain is not easy on an average day, so during the long, demanding days of Fashion Week, getting eight hours sleep is even more important. Sleep helps our bodies to repair and restore, preventing us from catching illness, irritability and being unable to concentrate. Getting a good night’s sleep can increase stamina and prevent burnout, post- Fashion Week.

Although it is undoubtedly one of the most exciting, anticipated weeks of the year in the industry, it is no secret that Fashion Week can be one of the most overwhelming too. However, by following just a few of these tips, or simply taking the time to implement small acts of self-care, the mayhem can become a little more manageable.

I was delighted to speak with Katherine Singh for Refinery 29 to unpack the latest buying trends, post-pandemic style & Dopamine Dressing.

“People haven’t been able to express that creativity and fun through their wardrobe,” says Forbes-Bell. Because of this, our desire to wear our dressy “outside clothing,” is in high gear — even if it’s just a lunch meeting or, like in my sequinned daydream, a morning coffee with friends.
“We ascribe certain values to things that have sentimental value or things we associate with fun, creativity, and joy. And when we wear those items we embody those traits and then subsequently we get that feel-good hormone.”

If you would like to read further please click here.

As anxieties around COVID-19 have segued into a deeper and more consistent malaise, a longing for simpler times has caused people to reshape everyday behaviour’s around comforting goods and long-established beauty rituals. The “new normal” has transformed the beauty industry, particularly the production and consumption patterns. Holistic care, mindful products, ethical production cycles and good value products are the key aspects for brands to flourish post-pandemic. 

A Sense of Normalcy

Being locked within four walls at homes, the pandemic has given us the time to be more mindful and pay attention to ourselves and our body as a whole which we may have overlooked in the past. Rather than investing in a magical foundation for flawless skin, the consumers are now more inclined towards a product that makes them feel better. Shoppers are seeking products made out of natural vegan and safer ingredients that mainly emphasize efficiency and functionality with a deeper meaning attached to them. 

To meet these expectations, beauty brands are trying to penetrate consumers’ minds and respond to their needs by introducing a product that fulfils the same. These brands are evolving and focusing more on self-care routines to provide a sense of normalcy. 

Back to Roots

Consumers want to turn back the clock and teleport into older and simpler times. They want to embark on a journey to explore new products and brands which reflect nostalgia, hence, leading to an urge to reconnect with their roots which helps ease anxieties. For decades, the beauty industry has been focusing on the look, rather than the “feel-good factor”.

The new-age consumer seeks transparency and is willing to make an effort for meaningful buying decisions. They want to relive and see through their personality via their product choices. This evolving landscape has given a boost to newer brands whose DNA respects the old age rituals and practices which are rooted in nature – the constant adapting and healing source.

Whether it’s about engaging brand narrative or adding a charming aspect to cosmetics via nostalgic packaging, many brands have been focusing on native practices as part of a holistic approach to wellness to establish trust with a consumer base. Thus, the question arises – How is this sense of nostalgia impacting beauty and wellness habits in the current scenario? 

The Impact of Nostalgia Marketing

Tapping into the nostalgic fond memories of millennials to stir a sensorial experience that teleports into a different time and space is the new tool found by the brands called Nostalgia MarketingWith the ongoing hectic lives, reliving a “blast from the past” positive memory that makes us smile is most likely to move our emotions.

Following this trend, beauty brands are taking leverage by reigniting their products and campaign strategies. The brands are identifying those special moments from the pasts which millennials crave. They are incorporating them in the form of impactful storytelling, a visually appealing packaging design with a familiar motif, icon or colour palette, by offering special services like customization and personalization or establishing an emotional hook by producing creative marketing strategies for brand promotions on varied online/ offline platforms. 

Nurture with Nature

The chemistry of ancient rituals along with nostalgic narrative has given birth to a new age oomph beauty segment. The nostalgia centric goods can innate optimism and produce meaningful content for maximising social media visibility through different mediums.

This trend has also led to the birth of many brands on a global scale. One of such newly launched brands is Fable & Mane which focuses on centuries-old ayurvedic rituals for a healthy scalp or hair. Founded by the sibling duo, Nikita and Akash Mehta, the brand is rooted in introducing authentic Indian hair care rituals and practices.

It pays homage to their grandmother’s traditional hair oiling routine with a blend of handcrafted plant oils and formulas for long, lustrous hair. With reminiscent packaging which is a reminder of ancient Indian beauty secrets along with powerful branding, it is a perfect example of a nostalgic brand, catering to the idea of “east meets west” at the same time.

Moreover, the COVID-19 has acted as a catalyst for hope for the beauty industry. The shift in consumer preferences and values has altered the otherwise regular expression: a sense of well-being and the vitality to nurture the nature around us is turning out to be as a key priority. And the nostalgia factor has acted as a feather in the cap by introducing a renaissance period for the beauty industry.

It’s time for ‘beauty’ to evolve, being in sync with the past & present, mutually. 

I discussed the importance of having comfort in our wardrobes amidst a post-pandemic world for CBC News. 

Clothing allows us to imagine and reflect the person we want to be now, the person we want to be in the future and the person we fear we’ll be. 

To read the article in full, please click here.

We have been quick to admire mature men for donning their salt-and-pepper mane, but seldom do we appreciate women who choose to age gracefully. As a society that’s gotten used to praising middle-aged women only when they’ve preserved their youthful appearance, it’s high time we redefined our beauty standards — or better yet, just shattered them altogether — when it comes to ageing.

The grey rebellion

As salons shuttered amid lockdowns last year, women began embracing their naturally grey roots with wild abandon. It’s all every news headline could talk about, especially since celebrities like Andie MacDowell and Jodie Foster made it a buzz-worthy moment by owning their silver locks at Cannes, as did Sarah Jessica Parker from the many glimpses of her return as a 50-something Carrie Bradshaw with some silver streaks in tow. Given the sudden surge in positive publicity surrounding this, one can’t help but wonder: Why has it taken us this long to appreciate women who are naturally greying?

For as long as we can remember, men have been romanticised for showing visible signs of ageing — whether it’s in the form of grey hair, wrinkles (hello, George Clooney) or even a ‘dad bod’. Meanwhile, the beauty industry is raking in billions by selling bottles of eye-lifting potions and root touch up sprays to women who are stigmatised for looking old. In her 1972 essay titled ‘The Double Standard of Ageing’, late writer and activist Susan Sontag put it best when she aptly stated that, “Beauty, women’s business in this society, is the theatre of their enslavement. Every wrinkle, every line, every grey hair is a defeat.” According to Sontag, “This is not to say there are no beautiful older women. But the standard of beauty in a woman of any age is how far she retains the appearance of youth.” Sadly, her words ring true even today. 

Described as stereotype embodiment theory, the process of internalising the age stereotypes that permeate in our society begins at childhood and continues even afterwards. Once internalised, the ageist construct becomes part of our implicit or consciously unaware, subconscious set of beliefs regarding old age and older people. The only way to combat it is by reinforcing positive implicit attitudes towards feminine ageing.

Every grey cloud has a silver lining

Laura Freeland, a hairstylist at the Pink & Rose Salon in northwest London has had her suspicions about the sudden surge in grey hair, assuming that it could just be a temporary phase. But ever since a majority of her clients aged over 40 began to go grey, Freeland has found it refreshing to watch them embrace their natural beauty and just be themselves. “Letting your hair go grey is quite like searching for hidden treasure — at the outset, you can’t be sure about what you’re going to find at the end of the trail, but the journey is always interesting,” she said.

While most of us can expect to go grey by the time we’re 40, some of us end up reaching that point a lot earlier. Shloka Sagar, a 30 year old professional based out of Dubai, began prematurely greying at the tender age of 20. Having spent the entire duration of her twenties obsessing over her roots, Sagar recalled, “I would constantly struggle with styling my hair in ways that would hide my greys, not to mention stress about scheduling my root touch-ups around social events since I only had a two-week window before they would show up again. Even the weather outside would have me worried if a gust of wind would reveal my grey parting. Running my fingers through my hair was not an option if I had applied some root cover-up spray, as it would stain my fingers. Even casual conversations would fill me up with dread, wondering whether the person I was speaking to was staring at my roots even if they weren’t.” 

The Beautiful Shloka Sagar

A newfound self-acceptance amidst the grey skies

After what seemed like a tiresome decade of relentlessly covering her greys, she finally decided to grow out her natural roots amid lockdown and has found the journey to be rather cathartic. But stepping back into the social scene wasn’t as easy, Sagar claimed, “Even while I was working from home, I was the odd person on zoom video calls who was sporting a cap and refused to take it off even if my boss called me out on it. I would avoid stepping out for grocery runs and even if you would spot me outside out, chances are I was wearing my cap.” Crediting her husband who motivated her to ultimately embrace her greys and face her fears of being seen in public, Sagar now finds that negative remarks on her hair rarely affect her since her newfound self-acceptance trumps everything else. 

“I have found an immense sense of freedom by accepting my greys. Freedom from chemicals, sprays, and all the stress that was weighing me down all these years. At times, I’ll encounter strangers who tell me I have ‘nice hair’ and that just makes my day. My hair has equally shocked and inspired a lot of people, I never thought I could own my greys with such confidence — you wouldn’t guess that you can actually look good, but you can,” Sagar said. As a hairstylist, Freeland agrees, “I definitely think it will give you a sense of freedom, both internally and externally. Grey hair on younger women gives them a hint of mystery which is incredibly sexy. And on mature women, it gives them an experienced and well-versed air of sophistication which only heightens their perceived class. I also love how grey hair brings out the colour in your eyes, it really makes them pop.”

Sagar hopes that she can encourage women — both, young and old — to embrace their natural-selves just as she has. Whether it’s through finding solace in self-acceptance or inspiration in women like her on social media (#silversisters), she added, “As women, we get criticised for everything. You may as well do what you want.”

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 tenth instalment, we’re speaking to the founder of @tickover , Bryony Porter. 

Bryony Porter

Bryony Porter (she/her) is a seamster, craftivist and visible mender living on a canal boat in South West England. She enjoys using embroidery as a medium to challenge the fashion industry which exists at the expense of both people and the planet. She spreads awareness by posting her embroidery to her Instagram, @tickover, which has racked up a huge following.

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

1. How do your clothes make you feel?

To be honest, clothes more often than not are just clothes to me. The right fit and style can make me feel great. Sometimes I love to dress up in a more vintage 50s style, rarely now-a-days. Sometimes I’m really proud of my repairs and patches, other times I feel very scruffy and wish that I had a fierce wardrobe. Sometimes I want to throw everything out and buy things that my present self would wear, rather than wearing the things I bought years ago and that have been given to me but aren’t really my style… But that’s never going to happen. 

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

My most treasured item is this vintage 1950s dress, because its the oldest thing that I own. I love the synched in waist and full skirt. Putting it on after lockdown, I realise it needs a bit of letting out and perhaps a dry clean, that and I need to make an occasion to wear it.

I love the idea that it belonged to someone else before me, where did they go? What did they eat in it? Where has it travelled? And hopefully, when I’m done with it, it will intrigue someone else just as much.

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

All decisions are political, including what we chose to buy and wear on our body. Since all clothing is made by human hands, every piece in our wardrobe is connected to garment makers all over the world.

Whilst all deserving of equal rights, dignified working conditions and living wages their individual realties are not often shared. Perhaps the individual that made your jumper is protesting against the military coup in Myanmar? That grew the cotton to make your underwear is fighting for farmers’ rights in India. Against union busting in Sri-Lanka, for the Accord to be extended in Bangladesh, against gender-based violence in Lesotho.

Maybe they have lost their job due to the Covid-19 pandemic and are struggling to feed their family. Or perhaps they have been displaced by the climate crisis, of which the fashion industry has played an enormous part. 

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

Whilst my living as a seamster is dependent on garment workers and I see a direct transaction between the clothing made by others that I alter and repair and the food on my table this is a shift in perspective that I have learned through the pandemic.

I was privileged to be furloughed during the lockdowns of the Covid-19 pandemic for many months and this was highlighted by the stark contrast of my living situation and safety and that of others both that lost jobs and that had to make clothes at detriment to their own wellbeing. The pandemic highlighted the fashion industry as a system that was already broken, like nothing else.

Personally being furloughed gave me the space to do more learning, reflection and “activism” than when I’m working my day job although I was desperate to get back to sewing. Generally I wear a minimal wardrobe and repair the hell out of it, since I was practically living in my pyjamas they gained more repairs than usual. 

5. What are you planning on buying next?

Right now I don’t think that there’s anything that I actually need. I have limited space on my narrowboat for new clothes and can never throw anything away, no matter how old and patched, so getting new clothes comes at the cost of always stubbing my toe on the drawers that stick out from under my bed that I need to force closed.