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Spring has officially sprung and with the majority of us spending more time at home than ever it is the perfect excuse to properly declutter and organise our wardrobes. Understandably this task can evoke anxiety, given most people don’t wear at least half of the clothes they own. However, it is almost guaranteed that letting go of our inner hoarders will not only tidy our wardrobes but also our minds. Here are some simple tips to help conquer arguably the greatest hurdle: getting started.

1. Take it all out

To see what you have really got to work with, it is best to take everything out of your wardrobe. This way, not only can you give the crevices of your closet a deep clean, but you’ll have a blank canvas to create innovative, efficient organisation solutions. Placing the contents onto your bed allows you to form clear piles, such as one for charity, swapping with friends and selling on websites like Depop. Creating the barrier between yourself and your bed will also ensure your motivation does not drift, and the task cannot be postponed for another day. 

2. What brings you joy?

When it comes to deciding what to keep and what to part ways with, it can be daunting. Many of us are plagued by an inner voice that endorses hoarding behaviour – but are you really going to wear that skirt again, which made its one and only appearance four years-ago? In true Marie Kondo style, the short and simple question to ask yourself when stuck in such a debate is: does this item spark joy? Or in other words, does it make you feel happy, confident or inspired?  

Sometimes, there’s a need to be a little more ruthless. I’m sure we all own garments that provoke memories of positive times and special people – but that doesn’t mean we will wear them again. So, if you’re still struggling for space after the first cut, maybe ask if the curated collection of clothes projects an image you want to portray. Look to Instagram, Pinterest or even street-style to help build a personal image. If your wardrobe reflects this, not only will getting dressed in the mornings help you to embody the powerful, elegant or alternative person you wish to be, but it will also ensure items can be worn interchangeably to maximise their versatility and potential. Furthermore, replacing automatic negative thoughts with ones that focus on the benefits of refining your wardrobe, will encourage a more positive mindset and successful spring clean. 

3. Donate

With the hardest part of the spring clean accomplished, it is important to dispose of your unwanted items sustainably. One of the most effective ways to do this is to donate. Charities will always be grateful for new clothes to sell in-store, especially if they’ve been washed and are still in good quality. More formal pieces, in particular, can be donated to Smart Works, a UK-based charity that helps disadvantaged women enhance their employment prospects. They provide support in building employability skills and searching for employment, which includes providing an interview-appropriate outfit.

Giving to others has personal benefits too. Research has found that carrying out moral actions, such as donating to charity or helping another person, enables people to show greater physical and mental endurance. The perception of this increased self-control can influence subsequent behaviours by encouraging us to perform additional moral acts, to confirm this self-perception.  

4. Organisation

Now you’ve gone out with the old, it’s time to put everything in with a new organisational approach. An effective method to maximise ease and minimise the time spent searching for an item, is sorting clothes by category and further by colour. Once rails have been sectioned into jackets, blouses, jeans, skirts and dresses, try to create a colour gradient from dark to light. Not only is this aesthetically pleasing but colours can be used to compliment or even influence our moods. One study found significant associations between consumer perceptions of specific colours. For example, the colour red was associated with excitement, black with sophistication and white with sincerity. Having a clearly visible colour palette will help identify looks which can embody and enhance appropriate emotions. 

5. Mindful storage

A tidy wardrobe can create a tidy mind, so no matter the shape or size of your closet, mindfully storing clothes helps to maintain garment quality and importantly, mental clarity. Prioritise hanging longer, delicate garments while folding heavier items like jumpers and jeans. T-shirts, pyjamas and gym-wear can be rolled to create more space inside drawers and prevent creasing. To be even more storage-savvy, try to store your most-worn clothes at eye level or organise drawer contents in the order you get dressed. These simple tricks aid the automatisation of our actions and decision-making, opening mental space for making more accurate judgements on issues with arguably greater importance, than what we are going to wear.   

A wardrobe clear out is not a quick nor easy job but reducing and reorganising your collection of clothes has both aesthetic and cognitive benefits. Maximising the efficiency of closet space and organising it to complement implicit ways of thinking, can make small yet significant changes to our daily routines. When making future purchases, try to adopt a ‘one in, one out’ rule and question if you will get one hundred wears out of an item, to ensure only sustainable and economically effective decisions are made.

We’re currently living in one of the most tumultuous times of our lives. Every thing about daily life has changed, chiefly our daily routine getting up, getting dressed and getting out of the house. While it may be tempting to spend the entirety of your day in your pyjamas, you can’t forget that the clothes you choose to wear are constantly impacting the way you think and feel.

I spoke to Happiful’s Digital Editor Ellen Hoggard about the way clothes can shift your thinking, lift your mood and improve your confidence. 

The best route to discovering your personal style involves first acknowledging that your personal style is an extension of yourself. Once you accept this, you need to decide which version of yourself you want to portray to the outside world.

Research has found that we all have a dynamic relationship with clothing that impacts the three different ways we view ourselves: the person you want to be, the person you hope to be, and the person you fear to be.

Think about the qualities that make up the person you want and hope to be, the things they do and the places they visit. Do you know anyone that embodies these qualities and lives this lifestyle? How do they dress? Take inspiration from them

Read the full article on Happiful‘s website. 

The Durag is one of those pieces that you either wear religiously or you’ve never heard of at all. If you’re in the former category, then you’ll be aware of the cultural significance they hold. To celebrate cultural icon Rihanna’s latest British Vogue cover shoot, I spoke to Vogue’s Contributing Editor Fumi Fetto about the psychological importance of the headdress in the Black community. 

The popularity of durags amongst black men, says fashion psychologist Shakaila Forbes-Bell, is closely related to the way the black community values hair and community. “Those playful Twitter videos, where young men gather together to untie their durags for ‘wave checks’, are a testament to the way hair and fashion interact to unify the black community”.

Visit Vogue.co.uk to read the rest of the article. 

What to wear when working from home can be a challenge. The temptation to remain your cosy pyjamas can be overwhelming. If no one is going to see you (with the exception of the postman who comes bearing your neighbour’s parcels), is there much point in getting ready for the day? Even so, surely being comfortable will make you more productive – and nothing is more comfortable than a plush dressing gown and cashmere joggers? 

Sadly, this is not the case – working in our loungewear can, in fact, hinder productivity. Since birth, we have learnt to associate our nightwear with a state of relaxation, so our bodies can prepare to slumber. Unfortunately for us, this has become almost too effective; every time we dress in pyjamas we unknowingly signal for our brains to sleep, which is not the ideal situation at 9 am on a Monday morning. In the same way, wearing smarter clothing that mirrors the working environment you are familiar with can help to change your mindset to one that focuses on work, as a result of the intrinsic associations you would have created. 

More importantly, getting dressed in the mornings can help you feel good and by improving your self-perception, personal confidence and performance at work. Creating a positive work environment is essential when working from home; you want to have a space that is both inspirational and motivational, and a central aspect of this is your clothing. Research has shown that the mood and performance of workers can be affected by the appropriateness of their attire (Soloman & Schopler, 1982). Being formally dressed allows people to adopt self-perceptions associated with their clothing and describe themselves using more formal adjectives, meanwhile, the opposite occurs when in more casual dress (Hannover & Kuehnen, 2002). It seems dressing casually may create a more casual work ethic, or feeling lower productivity. Therefore, the feelings we attach to certain types of clothing can subliminally influence our behaviour so we perform in a way that is congruent with what would be expected, based upon our attire. 

However, this isn’t to say people should work from home in suits and court-heeled shoes. It is equally important to have positive feelings about the items of clothing you wear because this will enhance positive emotions, perceived competency and sociability (Kwonn, 1994b). If you are going to be working from home for the day, there is no shame in putting on a pair of trousers that are a little more casual than what would be expected in the office. In some instances, wearing slightly more casual clothes can, in fact, boost morale and productivity (Alonzo, 1996 in Peluchette & Karl, 2007 ), perhaps through reducing a sense of corporate pressure . Experiencing psychological or physical discomfort can have a counterproductive effect on self-perceptions (Peluchette & Karl, 2007), so it’s about creating a balance between being dressed smart enough to emulate an occupational mindset, while remaining comfortable

It is clear that feeling good in what you’re wearing can also help you feel good about yourself and therefore increase productivity – which is especially important amongst the increased distractions at home. But what exactly should this clothing be? Research suggests its more down to personal appraisals. Sense of clothing appropriateness for an individual’s job role influences their perceptions of their quality of role-performance (Solomon & Schloper, 1982). By feeling more responsible, professional and knowledgeable when properly dressed, it will inevitably lead to greater work outcomes (Kwon, 1994a). These aren’t necessarily always subjective too. Like formal language, formal clothing implies that a situation is not a casual or familiar one. This encourages deeper, more perceptive thinking which for many, is an important skill while working (Slepian, Ferber, Gold & Rutchick, 2015). It also helps to strike a greater work-life balance by distinguishing personal roles through dress. Physically dressing differently when working from home can help to embody an occupational role over a non-occupational one, such as a parent, wife or husband, and detach from the duties that come with these (Rafaeli, Dutton, Harquail, and Mackie-Lewis, 1997). 

With this in mind, ultimately, working from home can be most effective when wearing something that is different from your everyday attire but still comfortable and you feel good in. Getting ready for the day as you normally would whether it’s to study at university or work in an office can be both physically and psychologically beneficial, encouraging productivity and detachment from the distractions the home environment presents. What is most important, however, is being able to switch off. It is easy to lose sight of the day’s structure at home – scheduling in regular breaks and switching off in the evenings will promote the greatest productivity and emotional wellbeing. Outfits can be one way to help segregate work and home life. Changing out of your work clothes and back into the loungewear you worked so hard to undress from that morning will allow your mind and body to shift back from a work to home context.  

Meta description: Your decision about your work from home attire is even more crucial when the way you dress impacts your productivity levels.

There has been a correlation between fashion and our own bleak view of the future ever since Chanel showed cocktail dresses with ragged hems during the 1930s (Forbes, 2014). We flashback even further to the French Revolution, where men (but not women) dressed down no matter what their stature as clothes became a political statement:

“…Lace cuffs, knee breeches, ruffles, frills, frockcoats, lighter colours, high heels, big wigs, the flamboyant Macaroni style—all of this fell out of favour. In its place came the rise of darker clothes, ankle-length trousers, matching jackets, suits, and short, natural hair.” (All About Candian History, 2016)

This drastic change was not merely a coincidence and we have to wonder in today’s society can we still attribute outside forces to our fashion sense. Let’s push forward to the most drastic event of the Millennial generation, The Great Recession. 

In 2007, just before the Great Recession, ruffled miniskirts and low rise jeans were all the rage with Ron Frasch (CMO of Saks Fifth Ave at the time) referring to the era as being “colourful and sexy” (Vox, 2018). Later that same year, the recession hit and fashion drastically changed. Even rich consumers, similar to the French Revolution, shied away from logoed clothes and bags perhaps in solidarity. “It was suddenly uncool to look rich” (Christian Binkley, former Fashion editor, Wall Street Journal); a trend that still persists today. Literally, fashion seemed to have changed overnight not figuratively but in taste. Stores slashed the price of inventory to remove those bright summer trends. Saks was the first to slash prices to 70%.

It was too late to retract the colour wheel and the Great Recession abruptly ended in June 2009; way too soon to create clothes that matched the mood of the citizens but that didn’t stop trendsetters from shying away from bright colours.

Even popular blog, popsugar.com had a hard time picking out which celebrity was the worst dress in 2007, showing how much the economic turndown affected the rich and powerful (popsugar, 2007).

Today, being aware of the tone of the economy isn’t just for people; businesses have learnt the hard way back in 2007 that the mood of people can dictate consumer behaviour on a large scale The fear of another economic turndown not only drives consumers to shop less but designers to create dark clothes in hopes to match the mood of the consumer and propel them to make a purchase. So perhaps the answer has layers. It’s certainly true that we noted that consumer behaviour changes when outside forces, either political or economical, make us re-examine our fashion choices. For now, we’ll be keeping a close eye on the runways and the FTSE to see what the future has in store.

Lingerie is a somewhat stigmatised and misunderstood form of apparel. Many people feel uncomfortable and embarrassed when faced with the topic of undergarments. However, the lingerie we choose to wear can in fact act as a form of self-expression – much like the shoes, bags and jewellery that accompany our outfits. Investing time to focus on ourselves and selecting items that flatter and honour our bodies can improve mental wellbeing, such as through increasing confidence and improving mood (The Independent). So why do so many people fear it?

Cora Harrington photographed by Bria Celest

As a form of fashion, lingerie has similar powers in portraying who we are at our core, yet it is often overlooked. 

Cora Harrington from ‘The Lingerie Addict’ emphasises the importance of valuing lingerie for whoever chooses to wear it.

She explains how “the garments closest to your skin should not only be the most comfortable, they should, ideally, be something you love and enjoy wearing”. As the “first thing you put on in the morning and the last thing you take off in the evening”, lingerie provides a “foundation to your look”. 

If we don’t feel good from underneath our visible clothes, how can we be portraying the best version of ourselves?

Furthermore, lingerie is not bound by social boundaries and expectations. Society influences the garments we wear, through imposing dress-codes and implicit rules of what is deemed publicly acceptable. This can lead to a lack of authenticity when trying to express the self through immediate appearance. However, lingerie is free from such constraints. Even if the world requires an ingenuine face to be put forward, respite can be found in knowing that what is worn underneath reflects the person you really are. This can also give people confidence in radiating their true self, through the uniform that disguises it. 

Lingerie has been a salient part of history. It has reflected key attitude changes, most notably towards women. From the corset culture that categorised the 1800s to the silky slip dresses and chemises in the early 1900s and the hyper-sexualised lacey styles that featured in the 70s and 80s. Today, lingerie is better perceived as a way to empower rather than objectify – with an array of styles suited for all shapes and sizes, regardless of who you identify as. 

Cora Harrington's book In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie

But despite this freedom, there still seems to be a significant stigma around lingerie. 

Many hold onto the belief that fundamentally, lingerie is sexual. Yet, it doesn’t necessarily have to be worn with sexual intent. Cora explains how “lingerie can be sexual in the same that red lipstick can be sexual, but that doesn’t mean lingerie is inherently or singularly about sex”. And although the lingerie industry is opening up to the idea of more inclusive forms of undergarments, a gendered stigma is still attached. As a historically characteristic form of female fashion, today lingerie is still marketed primarily with women in mind. These assumptions are entrenched into society, so significant revision and education may be necessary to update the lingerie market and match it to more modern movements. 

Although the lingerie industry is yet to accommodate some areas of the market, others have been enhanced greatly over the last decade. One example is the development of styles to suit a range of body shapes and sizes. The availability of intimate apparel that fits and flatters all figures has positive impacts on self-expression. Allowing more people to readily purchase products that fit their bodies, just as they are, portrays the idea that they are accepted by society. Cora recommends brands such as Elomi, Curvy Couture and Playful Promises (specifically, the Gabi Fresh collection) when it comes to finding lingerie that suits a range of sizes, while remaining stylish. 

Indeed, purchasing lingerie can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. 

When asked what piece of advice she would give to someone investing in their first piece of ‘special’ lingerie, Cora writes “If a pair of fancy fishnets feels special to you, buy that. If a silk caftan feels special to you, buy that. Don’t feel like you have to restrict yourself to other people’s notions of ‘special’.” Try setting stigmas to one side and buy what you love, not what you think you should love. Whether it is sexy or simple, lace or cotton, patterned or plain, what is most important is that you feel comfortable and confident in what you’re wearing. 

Wearing lingerie doesn’t have to be feared, but rather embraced. As Cora emphasises “feeling comfortable in your body as you move through the world is a benefit that cannot be underestimated, because if you’re not having to think about how much you hate your bra, you can focus on other things instead.” Lingerie can have an important role in the road towards self-acceptance, and ultimately, help us to feel proud and confident enough in ourselves, to express exactly who we are.

When discussing female empowerment, the feminist movement and its success in improving women’s wellbeing within patriarchal societies, the impact of clothing and fashion might be pretty low on the list. However, as we have highlighted on this platform, clothing can play a pivotal role in driving political conversations, in forming group dynamics and just generally improving the confidence of women the world over. To celebrate International Women’s Day, we have identified 4 garments that have all positively impacted the lives of women in one way or another.

Boots

Fashion Psychology
Image Source: WashingtonPost.com

The ones we hate to love, high-heeled boots. No one will deny that high-heels are a health hazard. ‘As early as 1881, a British physician reported an occupationally related backache caused by “the wearing of high-heeled boots, which necessitates the continuous action of the muscles of the lower part of the spine, in order to maintain the proper balance and erect position’ (Linder, 1997). Despite the associated pain, women continue to wear high heeled boots for one reason; they make us feel powerful, or if you’re Elle Writer Estelle Tang, they make you feel like a “Powerful Witch”. In a survey conducted by MIC respondents noted that heels helped them to “flip a switch” in their minds that took them from “girl” to “woman.”

Psychologically speaking, it can be the case that high-heeled boots evoke a sense of power in women simply due to the fact that it makes them appear taller. Indeed, in US presidential elections the taller candidate is always more likely to win because we simply process taller people as being more authoritative (McCann, 2001). Interestingly, studies have also found that powerful people overestimate their height. If by adorning those few inches you can be perceived as more powerful, feel more powerful and even be more likely to win an election then as the saying goes: no pain, no gain.

Slogan T-Shirts

Fashion Psychology
Image Source: Essence.com

For years, slogan T-shirts have allowed women to literally wear their hearts on their sleeves and take centre stage in many political spheres. As highlighted by Phyllis Martin in her 2004 book ‘Fashioning Africa: Power and politics of dress’, clothing has always had the capacity to “be threatening to observers and even dangerous for wearers. As sensibilities about gender, sexuality, age, and status converge, the dressed[…]body may be a site for contestation”. From ‘Black Lives Matter’ to ‘Time’s up’ women have being utilising clothing in the form of Slogan T-shirts to ignite social change for several years.

British fashion designer Katharine Hamnett is often credited as one of the first to create a politically charged slogan T-shirt. When meeting the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1984 she unzipped her jacket to reveal a shirt with the anti-nuclear sentiment that read “58% don’t want Pershing”. Since then, several female fashion designers including Vivienne Westwood and Stella McCartney have all created slogan t-shirts that allow women to express their political viewpoints.

Sadly, a study by NatWest found that when voicing their opinions, a fifth of women have been negatively described as ‘opinionated’, while one in 10 has been called ‘feisty’ or ‘vocal’. These perceptions can often negatively impact a women’s confidence, forcing her into silence. Luckily, Slogan T-shirts can lift the burden of vocalisation by speaking for women in a way that cannot be misinterpreted or go unnoticed.

Bras

Fashion Psychology

A controversial entry on the list, bras has often been seen as an antithesis of female liberation; an instrument created to contort women’s bodies for the male gaze. When digging a little deeper though, you’ll find that bra-burning is less of a feminist staple and more so a trope pushed by anti-feminist media. According to author of Ten of the Greatest Misreported Stories in American Journalism W. Joseph Campbell stated that the during the event in 1968 when the burning happened, bras certainly weren’t the only garment thrown into the fire.  “Invoking bra burning was a convenient means of brushing aside the issues and challenges raised by women’s liberation and discrediting the fledgling movement as shallow and without serious grievance,” Campbell wrote.

When looking at the history of bras you’ll find it has always been routed in providing women with increased comfort and support during times of increased activity. The first bra patent was granted to Mary Phelps Jacob in 1914 in New York who, upon fashioning a bra made up of handkerchiefs and ribbon celebrated the fact that she could “move more freely”. Whilst studies have shown that bras, particularly ill-fitting ones can cause back pain, not wearing a bra when exercising means that your back, neck muscles, and trapezius (a major muscle in the back) are also going to have to work a lot harder to balance out your weight. Similarly, Livestrong reported that ‘sports bra helps minimize the movement of your breasts, which can help to reduce pain and discomfort caused by stretched skin and ligaments caused by working out’. 

The number of women playing sports regularly are increasing and after Nike’s recent impassioned ad featuring Tennis Champion Serena Williams, we’re sure these numbers will continue to climb. There’s no denying that bra’s, particularly Sports Bras have played a significant role for women in this arena.

Shoulder Pads

Fashion Psychology
Image Source: TheDollsFactory.com

During World War II the epaulettes that graced the shoulders of soldiers manoeuvred their way into the fashion industry as women donned shoulder pads as symbol of solidarity with the brave fighters abroad as they contributed to the war effort at home. In post-War times, psychological research has found that shoulder pads have a positive by-effect for working women. In the 80s-movie classic Working Girl, Melanie Griffith’s character dons larger than life shoulder pads to legitimise her new position as a respected business woman and thus the era of power dressing was born with designers such as Alexander McQueen and Dolce & Gabbana showcasing the style on the runway. In the 80s and during its revival in the early 21st century, shoulder pads were the clothing equivalent to the ideology of ‘leaning in’ – taking charge and embodying power in male dominated industries. But why do we associate shoulder pads with power?

Broad shoulders are typically associated with males, with studies showing that men with broad shoulders are not only perceived to be more masculine but they also possess higher testosterone levels (Kasperk et al, 1997). As shoulder pads broaden shoulders, when wearing them women can also be perceived as possessing more masculine traits. It’s certainly true that women should not have to ‘man-up’ their wardrobes in order to level the playing fields. Shoulder pads could lessen the impact of the negative stereotypes that some men hold of women when applying for roles in traditionally male-dominated workplaces.

Did we miss any wardrobe staples? Let us know in the comments

Header Image Source: Variety.com

The Carnival outfit, coupled with the freeing backdrop of the Caribbean can evoke an impassion response, particularly in women. In this piece, we’ll discuss the psychological research behind the outfits appeal and how its strong historical roots makes it deeper than simply a cute costume.

This time last week I was awash in a flurry of gems, sequins and feathers and I’ve never felt more powerful. Together, these pieces formed part of my masquerader costume as part of Trinidad Carnival – a yearly celebration that takes place in the days leading up to the Lenten period.  Now, before I paint you a clearer picture of how an outfit (which, on paper sounds like a young bedazzling enthusiasts fantasy) could insight such forceful emotions and even before I describe what the term ‘masquerader’ means, I must first give you a brief insight into the history of Carnival

Dating back to the 18th century, the history of Carnival in Trinidad is tied up with colonialism and catholicism. While transporting slaves to the Caribbean, Europeans, hailing from France and Spain brought their Pre-Lenten celebrations with them. Carnival originally started as a period for rich White elites to celebrate before the sacrificial period of lent while Black slaves were forbidden from partaking in the festivities. Through a series of emancipations and uprisings, Carnival was reimaged and evolved to what it is today – a cultural jubilee climaxing in the ultimate street party.

Revellers ‘play mas’ or simply, join in on the festivities by becoming ‘masqueraders’: Members of a Carnival group or ‘mas band’. Mas bands create elaborate and whimsical costumes for their masqueraders to wear. In every mas band masqueraders are split into sections. Each section has its own style of costume which come in varying degrees of flamboyance, from delicately placed gems to floor-length tassels and six-foot-tall feathers that would make Big Bird green with envy. Trinidad, where my family hail from, is known as the ‘mother of all Caribbean Carnivals’ so you can understand my innate infatuation with the event. 

Now that we’ve got the history out of the way, let’s get back to what you came here for – the fashion. I can spend another couple of paragraphs talking about the series of stellar outfits required for the multitude of parties leading up to Carnival Tuesday but like your white dress on your wedding day, there’s only one outfit that really counts.

“My body was decorated as if it were a prize to be celebrated..”

Global Carnivalist playing for Yuma Band in the Cloud 10 Section

For Carnival Tuesday, I chose to play mas with a well-known band called Yuma. Yuma elicited the talent of Rawle Permanand (@rawlepermanand) to design the costumes in the section I chose called cloud-10. The name possibly referred to the white base colour of my costume, complemented by iridescent pink and blue gems. In my opinion, it referred to the cloud 9 (but better) feeling I experienced when I wore the full outfit, complete with my modest feather backpack and my striking crown. For many people, who don’t quite understand the liberation and freedom associated with Carnival, walking out of your house (for about 5 plus miles thereafter in the parade) in what is essentially a decorated bikini can seem indecent and too risqué. However, it’s possible that these views have a lot to do with societal pressures, particularly those applied to women and their attire. 

Sadly, psychological studies have shown that wearing fewer items of clothing can actually negatively impact the way women think about themselves and can even impact their presumed intelligence. In one study, entitled ‘the swimsuit becomes you’ (by Fredrickson, Roberts, Noll, Quinn and Twenge), researchers asked a group of female participants to complete a math test. While some of the female participants completed the exam in everyday attire, the other participants completed the exam wearing a swimming costume. The results revealed that, despite there being no difference in the intelligence between the two groups, the participants wearing the swimming costume performed significantly worse on the maths tests. The researchers concluded that this occurred because women often internalise the perceptions of others regarding the way they dress. It’s certainly true that in many Western cultures, women who choose to wear less clothing are deemed to be unintelligent, are sexualised and in some cases even vilified. These pressures can lead to self-objectification which produces body shame, “which is manifested in diminished mental performance”. Interestingly, the same negative effects were not experienced for the men tested in Fredrickson and colleagues’ experiment. 

So, why did I feel powerful? I believe it has a lot to do with the environment. For the most part, in the Caribbean, the woman’s form is celebrated. I didn’t experience the lustful looks or hear the tsking of an older person when I had more skin on show than they would have liked. My body was decorated as if it were a prize to be celebrated and being among other women, who were all dressed similarly if not the same, can heighten that freeing feeling. That feeling of camaraderie was certainly felt by experienced masquerader Globey (@GlobalCarnivalist) who has travelled the world playing mas in 15 plus Carnivals. “I do feel a stronger sense of community when [playing mas]. Most times the other masqueraders in my section will look out for each other; fix a costume string here, tuck a panty line here, mention “hey you’re about to have a nip-slip”. It’s amazing how a Carnival costume can bring strangers together on the road.”

Some scientists would argue that the impassioned response that many masqueraders have to their head-to-toe sparkly costumes has an evolutionary component – a topic we discussed in the piece ‘Sciencing Beauty with Pat McGrath’. Evolutionary psychologists claim that our attraction to shiny things is linked to our ingrained need for survival. For example, in a study on children, infants aged 7-12 months old were found to put their mouths to glossy plates much more than to dull ones. Children had also been seen lapping shiny toys on the ground, the way an animal might drink from a puddle. Researchers have concluded that the connection between drinking and shiny design was an evolutionary artefact–a sign that “our crush on glossy fabrics is rooted in a primitive desire for water as a vital resource” (Coss, Ruff & Simms, 2010).

Me playing for Yuma Band in the Cloud 10 Section

Designing a costume is not as simple as throwing together some gems and hoping for the best. “The costumes are as diverse as the islands, colourful like our homes and innovative,” says Globey.  Not only are the costumes intricate, delicate and skilfully designed, they tell a story of a people who underwent unimaginable suffering to evolve free; free to celebrate their presence in a way that forces you to take notice. 

The cultural significance of the Carnival costume was brought to light recently when Nigerian-American YouTuber Jackie Aina and Filipino-American YouTuber Patrick Star partnered with Uoma Beauty for a Carnival-Inspired Campaign. While the campaign claimed to be inspired by Nigeria’s Carnival celebration, the costumes featured were more reminiscent of Caribbean Carnivals like those held in Trinidad and dissimilar to the costumes worn at the Calabar or Caretta Carnivals in Nigeria. Naming a set of lashes in the collection “Trinidad” was not enough to halt the wave of disappointed tweets, some even coming from me. Many were upset at the fact that the campaign featured Non-Caribbeans donning Caribbean cultural attire, a move which can be interpreted as cultural appropriation. Others were disappointed at witnessing a routine that often happens in black communities, that being, when a community adorns a garment that’s unique to them they are at best misunderstood and at worst deemed derogatory. However, when that same garment is worn by a more visible person, detached from the community, they are celebrated. Thankfully, living up to her reputation as a champion for inclusivity, Aina listened to her followers and swiftly selected 4 Caribbean influencers to take part in Uoma’s campaign.

Today I’m back in London. My feathers did not survive the 8-hour flight. My two-piece is missing a couple gems and I have a few scratches on my arms from careless attempts at dancing with fellow gemmed-up masquerades. However, I will never forget the freeing feeling wearing that outfit and having my body and all of its curves not simply accepted but championed.

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.