How your clothes can affect - and improve - your mood
When 42-year-old Danielle Armstrong gets dressed in the morning, her outfit is cheerful and bright, even if she is not.
"I have a couple of staples that I fall back on if I am feeling really low," she says. "One is a bright orange and pink scarf, which always makes me feel better and bring me compliments."
"Another is a shorter pink floral dress, or my long white vest that is good for a more sleek look when layered over black with my jeans."
Having suffered for years with depression, Armstrong made it her mission to start dressing in fun, colourful clothes each day and posting her outfits on fashion website Fox In Flats.
"I began because it was a way of injecting fun into my everyday dressing, as well as giving me ideas on how to wear clothes differently," she says.
"I started to post my pictures with the hashtag #BeatTheBlackDogInStyle, because I realised that putting together an outfit made me feel good about myself. It became a very important tool in my recovery."
Several studies show our mood can be affected depending on what we wear. Likewise, how we feel upon waking can affect our choice of outfit and subsequent moods.
A 2012 study by Professor Karen Pine, from the psychology department at the University of Hertfordshire in Britain, found 57 per cent of women admitted to wearing a baggy top when depressed, compared to a 2 per cent wearing one when feeling happy. Similarly, 62 per cent would put on a favourite dress when happy, compared to 6 per cent when sad.
And the outfit women turn to when they are feeling down? Jeans, with more than half of the 100 women interviewed turning to their trusty denims on a blue day.
"Happy" clothes tend to be those that are flattering, well tailored and made from bright and beautiful fabrics, Professor Pine said.
Research by senior marketing lecturer Dr Alastair Tombs, of the University of Queensland's business school, backs up the strong link between women's emotions and their clothes.
"By interviewing 30 women, we have found that outfit choices are made to match mood and as a form of self-expression, but we've also found that clothing is used to control or mask emotions," he says.
He's also discovered that memories or emotions attached to our clothes can evoke good or bad feelings when we wear them.
"If someone is complimented on their clothing, then the good feelings they experience often come back when they wear that again," he says.
"Conversely, many women said they could never wear the same clothes again if something negative happened in them, such as breaking up with a boyfriend or losing their job."
Personal stylist Annalisa Armitage says it's important to let go of clothes we associate with bad times or feelings.
"When women open their wardrobes and have clothing they don't like, clothing that doesn't fit them or their husband hates, it's negativity hitting them in the face immediately," she says.
This is also the case when it comes to our clothes size.
"Women's bodies change much more frequently than men, so most women have a 'smaller' and 'larger' wardrobe," Armitage says. "When they are not in the 'small' sizes it impacts their mood significantly."
To make changes for a happier wardrobe, Armitage says women need to focus on shopping for outfits that emphasise the body parts they love.
"Everyone has at least one part that is fantastic, so recognising that will make you feel more confident when you dress," she says. "A lot of it also comes down to self image and learning not to be our own worst critics."
CREATING A 'HAPPY' WARDROBE
· Wear clothes that fit beautifully and feel physically good, such as cashmere, cotton or wool silk blends.
· Remove things from your wardrobe with negative associations.
· Donate clothes that no longer fit – let someone else enjoy them.
· Try to avoid item shopping. Instead focus on outfit shopping so that you have clothes that co-ordinate.
· Cull your wardrobe twice annually – once per season.
· To help cull, face all your hangers the wrong way at the beginning of the season, and only replace them the right way when you wear the item. Anything still facing the wrong way at the end of the season can go.
· Don't buy clothing that is "out of your comfort zone" – the chances are you won't wear it, or will feel self-conscious if you do.
· Use "'hero" pieces to make an outfit shine – this can be a necklace, special top, pair of pants or even heels.
· Learn which colours and cuts flatter you.
· Emphasise your assets and play down features you dislike.