A few days ago, I was having a low moment. Well, more than just a moment. I was wearing faded jeans and a black cardigan over a grey camisole. What does that have to do with it? Okay, there’s a chicken-or-the-egg aspect: was I wearing dull colors because I was feeling down, or feeling down because I was wearing dull colors? Either way, if I think about it in a Pythagorean kind of way, changing my clothes (or at least adding some color) should logically change my spirits.
But… implementing this sort of clothes-minded therapy requires making a conscious choice.
Speaking of choices, looking back now, all I had to do was pop on some colorful shoes, maybe earrings (or even lip gloss); just the act of taking a moment to indulge myself in such a simple way could have made a huge difference. (Ladies especially, you know what I mean. Think about the times when you’re under the weather, and putting on a little makeup really helps!) But at the time, I confess, I didn’t even think of it; I suspect I was focusing more on how bad I was feeling than on ways to feel better.
When I think about it, we use clothes every day (consciously or not) to express outwardly what’s going on in our lives. For example, we dress professionally to go to work, then change into something “comfortable” when we get home; is this really because our work clothes are so uncomfortable? I doubt it. It’s more likely that we simply have associations with certain items in our wardrobes, i.e. these clothes are for work, these other clothes are for relaxing. We change clothes to mark the change from working self to chilling-at-home self.
Sometimes we use clothes deliberately to create a particular impression. Think about how much effort you put into choosing your ensemble on the day of a job interview! I know I have the occasional day when I prefer to, well, maybe not disappear, but let’s say be less conspicuous, so those are not the days when I’d wear my colorful hand-knits. On the other hand, when I’m particularly full of confidence and joie de vivre, I’m much more likely to let that exuberance show in the way I’m dressed— no dull grey need apply!
And aren’t there days when you pick something to wear specifically because you can count on it to make you feel fabulous? Here in the Pacific Northwest, with its long, gloomy wet winters, many of us make a point of wearing bright colors, in a valiant attempt to cancel out all the grey. I know people who have certain movies they like to watch over and over, just because they can count on these films to make them feel great; in the same way, changing your clothes can be an important element of your own feel-good strategy!
So if the external me is a reflection of the internal me, the inverse (or is it converse? I’m never sure) should mean that changing something on the outside will be reflected internally as a change of mood. If we can just raise our awareness a little, so that we’re making our clothing choices more consciously, we can take charge of those blah days! Honestly, when an emotional pick-me-up is as close as your closet, why would you choose to continue feeling blue?