You can dress for success, but you can also dress for your mood.
Deirdre McQuillantalks to four people about the clothes that make them happy.
‘Clothes are powerful things. Dressed in a tramp’s clothes, it is very difficult not to feel genuinely degraded,” wrote George Orwell in his 1933 memoir, Down and Out in Paris and London. Orwell knew the extraordinary power that clothes have to communicate, transform and to express identity and emotion. We inhabit our clothes and are often assessed by the style they project.
If we really can wear our hearts on our sleeves, what clothes make us happy? A recent study in the UK found that what women choose to wear is heavily dependent on their emotional state. A sample of 100 women were asked what they wore when feeling down and more than half said jeans and a baggy top.
“Happy clothes” that made women feel good, were well-cut, figure-enhancing and made from beautiful fabrics. Accessories such as hats and shoes could also make a difference. “People who are depressed often lose interest in how they look and don’t wish to stand out.
This research suggests that we can dress for happiness but that might mean ditching the jeans,” concluded Prof Karen Pine, a psychologist and author, who conducted the study.
A friend who recently received upsetting news said that she went out that morning feeling miserable and dressed in clothes that looked awful.
“You have a relationship with your clothes and they can reflect a feeling that you are unloved. I just couldn’t look good that day,” she said. What makes her happy is a little blue cardigan with tiny buttons she picked up at a market for €6. “Every time I put it on, it has a kind of magic energy that makes me feel great.”
Another friend defines happy clothes as “something special that you have longed for and now, finally, is yours”. Looking at a dress made for her daughter gave one woman real joy and happiness.
We asked four very different people to give us their views on the clothes they wear that make them feel happy. Here’s what they had to say.
22, Dubliner, photographer, founder of clothes site fucknfilthy.com
I am really passionate about clothes and what makes me happy are those that have a story. This quilted jacket belonged to my mother 40 years ago, which I really like. I love the hat because I am very forgetful and lose things, but I have managed to hold on to this, which makes it special. The green jacket is a vintage find I bought for €12, and the jeans are Levi’s, from a short stint working for them in Manchester.