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Sartorial Psychology: Projecting Your Mood Via Fashion

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In the early dawn of humans, clothing was simply worn to keep us warm and to protect us from the elements. Over time, clothing and accessories grew to represent social status and help us attract a mate. Today, the main driving force for our fashion choices is to express our personalities and feelings. We may not realize it when we shop for an outfit, but the way we dress can send powerful signals to the people around us.

The Persona You Attach to Clothing

As a society, we attach certain expectations and stereotypes to different styles of clothes and accessories. When you see someone wearing a business suit and carrying a briefcase, you expect that person to be professional, organized, and in a serious mood. When you see someone wearing boutique country clothes and cowgirl boots, you might perceive them as being a happy, friendly Southern belle. These personas influence how we dress and how we inwardly see ourselves.   

In a study conducted in 2012, test subjects were given a lab coat to wear and asked to perform cognitive tests. One group was told they were given a doctor’s coat, while the other group was told they were given a painter’s coat. As predicted, the group of subjects who thought they were wearing a doctor’s coat performed better on the tests. Not only does fashion affect the way we perceive other people, but also it affects the way we see ourselves. 

Colors That Affect Your Mood & Perception

Colors have long been thought to affect people’s moods. Some believe that dressing in bright colors like lemony yellow, tangerine orange, and bright pink can help increase your happiness. In a 2014 study conducted on college students, researchers found that the color red promoted excitement, warm colors were found to be more arousing, green had a relaxing effect, and black gave a feeling of coldness and efficiency. The study also placed inmates into cells that were painted a bright pink color. These participants became less aggressive. Take a look at your own wardrobe and see if you can correlate any mood patterns with the colors you often wear. 

Bouncing a Mood Off Others and Back to You 

When you wear a boutique graphic tee with a positive catch phrase on it or a cute puppy, you will likely only see it once or twice when you catch a glimpse in the mirror. The real magic happens when others view what you’re wearing. Positive sayings and images are picked up by the viewer and projected back to you through their own affected mood and gestures. Satirical and negative sayings can cause people around you to reflect those feelings as well. 

Lucky Pants

The lucky pants theory is simple. If you believe you have a pair of pants that brings you good luck, you will go through your day with more confidence and feeling better about yourself. What you believe to be true can have a powerful influence on your daily life. One person may believe that in order to be seen as beautiful to others, they need to buy expensive, high-fashion clothes from the hippest designers. Another may simply feel amazing knowing that they bought boutique style clothing at a huge discount. Onlookers might say both people look trendy and project confidence because they believe the clothes they are wearing make them look fabulous.   

Bottom Line: Dress in What Makes You Feel Confident

If you’ve ever seen the movie, “I Feel Pretty”, you know that in the movie, confidence is key. The plot revolves around a woman who is super insecure about herself and her looks. One day, she takes a nasty fall during an exercise class and awakes to believe she is as beautiful as a supermodel, even though her outward appearance hasn’t changed. Exuding with confidence, she lands a great job, gets the hunky guy, and feels like a million bucks. In real life, overcoming our insecurities is hard to do, but dressing the way you want to feel can go miles in getting you there.   
Projecting your mood onto others through fashion happens everyday of your life. Maybe you were a rock n’ roll teenager that wanted the world to feel your angst. Now that you’ve grown up, perhaps stylish boutique clothes keep you feeling a blissful, forever 21. In the future, you may want clothes that remind you of the comforts of home and project a calm mood. Whatever your goals are, clothing just might help you achieve them!

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