Clothes aren’t just for keeping you warm and covered up – they can affect your mood, self-image and wellbeing, too. Read on as psychotherapist Anjula Mutanda reveals how to embrace the power of clothes to boost your confidence and tap into your happy place!
1. Give yourself a morning pep talk
We tend to look at ourselves in bits. We’ll think, “My arms are wobbly” or, “I need to hide my hips,” but the key to self-acceptance is to see yourself as a whole package – the way other people see you. They don’t break you up and say, “Oh dear, look at that bit!” So, before you get dressed in the morning, tell yourself, “I am a person, not a collection of body parts.”
2. Glam it up on low days
Dress like you’re having a happy day – even when you’re not. It’s natural to reach for something drab when you feel low, but doing so could make you feel worse. Next time you have a bad day, wear bright colours, heels, a little more mascara – whatever makes you feel great. It can help to readjust your body language and, in turn, people will respond positively.
3. Practice a bolder look
If you’re uncomfortable with attention, start small. Pick a lovely scarf, top or pair of shoes, then enjoy wearing them while you’re popping out locally, or even just spending time at home. Wear them around people who care about you – when they tell you that you look lovely, the inner confidence it gives you will help you to feel more at ease with positive attention.
4. Invest in mood-enhancing accessories
Five times as many women wear their favourite shoes when they’re feeling good as when they’re not. But if you’re feeling low, accessories are the ideal mood-lifter – they don’t care what size you are! So invest in scarves, earrings, shoes, necklaces and handbags, and wear them when you need a fast boost.
5. Avoid size denial
A survey found that 48 per cent of women buy clothes that are too tight for them as a weight-loss incentive. But it rarely works – ‘size denial’ is one of the biggest reasons for the return of unwanted items. Choose clothes that you can move in. You need to be comfortable, so try sitting and bending in them while you’re in the fitting room – if you can’t move easily, don’t buy them.
6. Embrace colour
Many of us spend our lives in shades of black, navy or grey. Time to get over it! Some experts believe that simply looking at certain colours can have a psychological effect. For example, warm colours such as red and pink could make you feel happier, while cool blues can help to bring about a sense of calm. And purple is thought to be pacifying – excellent for days when you’re not feeling your best.
7. Make your clothes work for you
You might wear something formal at work, or even a uniform, so changing clothes once you get home could help create a clear mental division between the two places. Make it a habit to change from your professional outfit into a more casual one to help you get out of your work setting and into relaxation mode.
8. Dress from a positive starting point
Instead of saying, “I have to hide this,” ask, “What do I like about my body?” When you’re shopping, aim to enhance, not hide. If you have a beautiful neckline, show it off! To cover your arms, try a top with three-quarter-length sleeves, instead of a tunic that hides everything else, too. We all have a go-to outfit, but sometimes that’s what we should be moving away from.