Say it with clothes

This was originally posted on my old blog on 12 November 2016.

As part of research for my Honours thesis I have looked into clothing as a form of communication. I’ve long suspected that what we wear speaks as loudly as our words, and it was a pleasure to see that confirmed in academia. Clothing can tell those around us about our affiliations, our activity, even something about our personality. Just look at advice for dressing for an interview to see how much what we wear matters in shaping what others think of us.

What specifically intrigues me, though, is how what you wear speaks to you. It can, to a large degree, shape what you feel about yourself. In the years I worked as fulltime parent, when social isolation was one of my greatest enemies, I had a rule to never wear track suits. My aim was to always dress casual but nice. I often got it wrong, but looking back, days that I didn’t dress well, I didn’t feel good about myself inside.

I also, over the years, discovered the power of clothing in helping against the occasional bout of the blues. Colour psychology is important here: on a day when you have to drag yourself out of bed, choose brighter colours, and those on the warm side of the spectrum.

Finally, I discovered that when your view of yourself is a little off track, you can start dressing the way you see yourself, which reinforces the skewed self-image, which reinforces the dress tendency. One of the most uplifting things I did in a recent phase of reconsidering the direction I was heading professionally, was to realise I was dressing like someone I wasn’t. Part of recalibrating myself involved reconsidering my wardrobe. I started loving what I wear again. Every day, choosing my outfit for the day is a joy. It’s a way of being creative, a way of expressing myself, of sharing my joy in being me with everyone around me.