What better way to start off a blog post than with an inspirational woman. In this case, my Gran is taking centre stage. She has inspired this discussion due to her relationship with clothes and how they provide routine and significance in her life. I think there is a lot to learn from the daily habits, attitudes and rituals of older generations. This is particularly prevalent during current circumstances where our safety net of normality and structure has been pulled away from under us.
For an 82 year old, despite her lack of physical energy, her passion for clothes, accessories and colour is brimming with the stuff. We often begin our daily Facetimes with a discussion about her OOTT (outfit of the day). Her face lights up as she describes her choice of colour combinations and decision to accent the with a selection of jewellery and scarves. No matter what day it is, she will always get dressed, put makeup on and do her hair so she is fully prepared for the day ahead. Lately, the extent of her activities being cooking, reading and watering her hydrangeas. But even amidst a global pandemic, she will always be well dressed and looking chic.
Aside from her passion for colour and print, getting dressed gives her a sense of productivity and satisfaction. I believe this routine is largely influenced by her upbringing with strict parents of a wartime generation, where traditional rules were always adhered to. Although, she will today admit the importance of clothes making her feel happy also, giving her a sense of positivity and enabling her to complete her tasks for the day. I believe clothes have a fundamental significance to our mentality and have great effect on personal emotions and state of mind.
Despite my Gran’s admirable daily routine, it has definitely been something I have slacked on the last few weeks. I wondered whether younger generations today lack the discipline and habitual life patterns of our older relatives? Therefore, in times of crisis where life is stripped back, we have an inability to implement certain basic routine practices as easily. Whilst being inside, I naturally resort to comfort dressing and steer clear of non-elasticated waist bands at all costs. However, as we all adjust out habits and routines during, I wondered where clothes fit into this. Clothing is a fundamental part of our existence which has a wider impact than we may realise.
What do clothes do for us and what do we get from them in return?
This is an expansive topic so for now I will reflect on clothes and routine as well as the psychological effect dressing can have on our mood, productivity and general happiness.
For example, imagine working in an office, (seems like a distant memory now, I know) studies have shown that wearing a tie can enhance an individual’s confidence and give them a sense of authority over others. Similarly, wearing a scientific lab coat can improve one’s ability to problem solve and complete a mathematical task. If wearing a piece of fabric can stimulate our brains and influence our actions in such ways, what wider impact could this have on our daily lives? Moreover, how can we embrace this to promote positivity?
This can be traced back to our intrinsic relationship with clothing. In its most basic form, clothes are here to protect us from the extremities of the world. Additionally, they give us a sense of safety, comfort and security. Whether we realise it or not, we choose to wear certain things for certain reasons. I have an old jumper of my dads which I will wear at some point most days (despite the large hole revealing half of my arm), because the feeling of it close to my body makes me feel at home and safe wherever I may be. We can also associate strong memories with clothes, which can in turn impact our emotions when we put them on. During a particularly stressful time at University I wore a pair of stretch trousers relentlessly day-in day-out. They fit the bill because a) they were extremely comfy for long days on my feet and b) they were moderately presentable to speak with my tutors everyday. Since then, I have occasionally dared to wear them but quickly reverted to something else because the few of the fabric and fit instantly takes me back to those intense moment of pressure and worry. Whether our associations are positive or negative, we cannot deny the fact that clothes influence our feelings. This psychological association can be applicable to many objects in our lives, however the act of wearing and its close intimacy to our body can make these emotions far more personal.
The emotive connection we have to the to the way we dress has a profound impact on our routine and mental well-being. I have experienced first hand the negative effects of wearing a baggy hoodie and old leggings everyday. I am by no means saying that these clothes do not have their place in our wardrobe, as I always advocate comfort dressing and wearing what makes your body feel good. However, I do believe that if we took our mental health and psychological processes into more consideration then we may reap some rewards. This could be as small as wearing a pair of proper trousers (seams, pockets and all) Monday to Friday, therefore providing that key separation and structure int he week. This also avoids the slightly embarrassing change from your ‘day pyjamas’ to your ‘night pyjamas’ every evening whilst working form home. Additionally, perhaps a certain skirt holds associations with a successful event at work. In turn, wearing this item can alter your mindset, productivity and happiness. As we are spending increasing time inside, it is important to consider clothing choices and embrace their ability to help us each day.
There is no perfect formula for dressing for a positive mindset. However, in a world where we may feel lost, it is sometimes the most basic acts such as getting dressed which can provide the essential normality in our lives. In the current climate it can be confusing what relevance fashion has in our society, but sometimes the smallest habits can have a widespread impact. Whilst I can’t see myself adopting my Gran’s fuchsia cardigan and twin set of pearls any time soon, I am certainly inspired by how much effort she puts into her outfits each day, and I have seen the positive impact this has on her. Perhaps this week wearing my favourite jeans may help me tick some items off my to do list. Today, I will get dressed to stay in.