Mental health has become a more widely discussed topic in the last couple of years and we’re finding more and more ways that it impacts our daily lives. What’s more, we’re learning the kinds of things we can do to take care of and improve our mental health.
5 Tips to Improve Your Mental Health by Dressing Better
One way to improve mental health is by improving your personal style. Bet you didn’t think what you wear could help improve your daily mood, mental health, and confidence though - right?
When associating clothes with mental health, the term “retail therapy” comes to mind. Retail therapy is basically the high, or cathartic release that comes after a shopping spree. But that can often lead to a retail therapy hangover.
While retail therapy can temporarily help lift your spirits, it usually comes with some negative consequences. First, you may feel guilty for using materialism as a way to deal with emotional issues. Second, you may be out of hundreds of dollars. Third, you probably still have the same emotional issues that led to the your retail therapy excursion.
Ultimately, retail therapy can lead you to feel like you were trying to fix a problem that can’t really be resolved simply by buying new clothes. Just me? OK.
The clothes you wear can definitely influence your mental wellbeing
But that’s not always the case. A little retail therapy within your means can be healthy! As long as you are being proactive about any emotional problems you are going through and financially responsible with your spending, shopping should be a fun and healthy experience.
But even more important is the idea that putting on a good outfit or expressing yourself through clothing has a real effect on your mental health. It can set the tone of your day and change your mood. It can lead to real change and have a positive effect on your mental health too.
So, we’re giving you 5 tips you can improve your mental health by dressing better!
A little caveat: dressing better is subjective. You’re an individual, so how you define “dressing better” is up to you. It doesn’t mean spending thousands of dollars on clothes, buying designer brands, or keeping up with trends.
Dressing better really means finding clothing that suits you and your personality. That’s ultimately the secret behind personal style improving personal mental health and mood.
The only way this works is if you’re wearing what makes you happy.
Our definition of "dressing well" is simply wearing clothes that make you feel good about yourself
5 Tips to Improve your Mental Health and Boost Your Confidence
Why are we talking about this and is there any scientific merit? Let’s talk about a term called Enclothed Cognition. We first heard about it here.
It’s a term coined by Hajo Adam and Adam D. Galinsky in their work and research at Northwestern University in 2012. See? Science!
In case you didn’t have the time or attention span to read the article, here is what they found: Basically, the researchers concluded that we wear clothes to be perceived a certain way. Those clothes then also hold symbolic meaning to us. When we wear clothes with meaning, they have an effect on our psychological state.
The tips we’re sharing here will help you pick clothes with the right meaning.
Clothes impact the way you are perceived - think how a biker jacket may make you feel more badass!
1. Wear what feels right and feels like you
In other words, your style is a form of your personal expression. So what you’re wearing should represent who you are.
Now, finding your true personal style is a process and takes more than a couple of sentences of explaining as well as some trial and error. However, if it feels like you’re putting on a costume each day when you get ready, it’s probably time to evaluate if you’re being genuine in your style.
Wearing clothes that aren’t really you can incite an imposter syndrome and those feelings will not improve your mood or confidence.
That also means that you should be focusing on this when you shop for clothes as well. Pick ones that speak to you, not just ones that fit a certain style niche or follow modern trends. Don’t feel like you need to look like the guys on TikTok or Instagram.
Wearing clothes that you don't really like may result in what feels more like a costume than an outfit
2. Make sure your clothes fit
The physical fit of clothing does play a role in how you feel in them and consequently your own mental health.
A lot of the time, negative body image in your clothes comes from ill-fitting clothes, not a poor-performing body. Remember, clothes should fit you, not the other way around.
The wrong fit accentuates things that you may already be uncomfortable with. Your goal is to find clothes that highlight what you love about yourself. That’s a good source of confidence.’
For example, it's very common for men to carry some of their weight in their lower belly. If this is a problem for you, better to stay away from extra slim fitting dress shirts. Rather, opt for something that helps eliminate pulling or tightness in that area. There are plenty of fits and styles that will give extra room in that area without looking oversized.
For shorter guys, it's been a real challenge to find clothes that actually fit off the rack. That's why Under 510 is here.
Thus, focus on finding your exact fit in all your garments. You can use the Sizing Guide on our site to get started. See how the guys on this page all have different body types and shapes. Those with certain issues make sure to accommodate when sizing their clothes.
3. Put in the effort each day
On some days, this feels like the most difficult task to pay attention to what you wear (especially in today’s work environment when you don’t have to leave your house). But it can be the difference between being in a good or lousy mood for the duration of the day.
As we’ve learned, giving yourself attention, putting yourself together, and changing into clothes that fit will change how you feel for the better.
Refer back to the concept of Enclothed Cognition. These physical actions and behaviors are proven to have great psychological benefits.
I know it's sometimes hard to even change out of your PJ’s or sweats when you’re spending most if not all of your day in the safe confines of your own home. But trust me, taking the time to put on something that makes you feel presentable will be transformative and worthwhile.
Much like taking the time to get some fresh air, putting effort into your outfit every day is an important part of a healthy daily routine
4. Try Something New
If your current wardrobe has you feeling stuck in a rut, it’s a good time to try something new. If you want to feel refreshed and renewed mentally, then you could definitely start by reinvigorating your closet. Adding some new clothes and styles to your repertoire can give you a whole new look while at the same time change the way you feel about yourself. If you look in the mirror and like the way you look, your mental health will naturally improve. Like I said earlier, there is a positive correlation between your appearance improving and your mental health improving.
Similarly, if you want to remove negative thought patterns from your mind, it may be time to get rid of the clothes that aren’t getting utilized. Think of it as a mental cleansing by physically ridding yourself of what you no longer need. Then, you will be more free to explore new items you’ve had your eye on.
Trying a new style that you may not currently wear, like joggers for example, can help give you a fresh perspective
This echoes the mantra of Netflix superstar Marie Condo who likes to say, “The best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one's hand and ask: “Does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it. This is not only the simplest but also the most accurate yardstick by which to judge.” This is true of all physical possessions and certainly your wardrobe.
Additionally, if you get rid of some of the clothes you don’t wear, that will leave more of an opening for adding some new items to your wardrobe. Yes, that means you do have permission to buy something new without feeling guilty. A little retail therapy is all right by us.
Some quick tips about rid of your old clothes: First, you can definitely give back to the community by donating your clothes to charity. This is an easy and rewarding way to make some room in your closet for new items. Second, you can sell your clothes. Using second hand sites like eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Poshmark, or Grailed for example, is simple and can generate more cash than you might think. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure! Also, you can bring your items to consignment centers, like TheRealReal or Beacon’s Closet (a favorite here in NY). They will pay you for your items instantly, and this way you can get some cash right away to use on your new wardrobe.
5. Add some Color
We’re sure you’ve heard it before, but there’s a psychology behind color. While we won’t go into depth here, you can be cognizant of which colors make you feel happier.
Cooler colors often have calming effects. Warm tones can be powerful and confident.
While colors do have an objective psychological impact, I think the more important challenge is to experiment and see which colors make you feel brighter and happier. Notice the impact that some colors have and stick to ones that have a positive effect. The same principle also applies to the way you interact with people around you. For example, if someone only wears all black everyday, others may have a more gloomy perception of that person. But if the same person suddenly starts wearing more lively and energetic colors, people will naturally begin to have a more upbeat and positive perception of that same individual.
Adding fun colors will give you and your outfit a boost of positive energy
Lastly, keep in mind that some colors look better on certain people and skin tones. While you should definitely feel free to wear whichever colors you enjoy, it will also be beneficial to your overall style to see which colors look best on your skin tone and hair color. There is an entire field dedicated to this exact subject, with practitioners known as Colorists. They analyze your features and devise a color palette you can use as a guide when buying clothing. This takes the guesswork out of figuring out which colors look best on you. Ultimately, picking the colors that compliment your natural appearance is a great way to improve your style and therefore your mental health.
Is fashion and retail therapy a real form of therapy?
Like art and music, personal style is a form of self-expression. These kinds of outlets can greatly improve mood and state of mental health. When you’re intentional with your style choices, and give your wardrobe the attention it deserves, you will feel better about yourself.
That’s because taking care of yourself is an essential action to achieve a happier state of mind. Doing small things like getting dressed in the morning, adding new items to your wardrobe, and picking livelier colors can make a big impact on how you are perceived by yourself and those around you. Taking the time to hone your style skills that support positive feelings and moods will only help you improve and maintain your mental health.