Dressing for positivity

Megan Lea 7 November 2016

Fashion in the modern world can be used to showcase your personality and preferences as an individual, and in daily life, what we choose to wear can have a huge impact on our mood and attitude. When you are having a bad day, the temptation to dress ‘comfortably’ is all too great. You might feel disappointed with your supervision or disheartened by this week’s reading list, and at least by hiding away in baggy sportswear you will not be wasting your favourite outfit on a bad day. Now that the dreaded Week Five has arrived, if there’s a choice to be made between sleep and a trip to the laundrette, it no longer seems criminal to wear a sweatshirt with last night’s dinner decorating the front – especially if you don’t plan on leaving the library all day anyway.

For the lucky few, clothes are just there to cover their modesty and keep them warm: their productivity will remain the same whether they are in pyjamas or a three-piece suit. But for the rest of us it is worth remembering that fashion is designed to empower. Your outfit choice can be a surprisingly simple way to alter your mood. ‘Tidy desk, tidy mind’ is a phrase quoted often, but a strong case can also be made for the link between wearing clothes that make you feel good and your efficiency levels.

To take a rather trivial example, while my Cambridge interview was not necessarily a ‘bad’ day, it was excruciatingly nerve-racking. I found myself relying on my wardrobe for superficial confidence, and I specifically remember the reasons behind picking the coat I wore that day. It was not a garment designed for warmth but that was irrelevant as I was frozen by nerves anyway: the cut, the drape and the vibrant cobalt blue shade of my outer layer acted like chainmail, fending off thoughts of doubt. The interview rooms themselves benefitted from excellent central heating, but I kept my coat on, because in it I felt like a young professional. Fashion is no substitute for knowledge, but it can be a helping hand when you need to find motivation and confidence in yourself.

That is not to say we should never take a relaxed approach to what we wear. On a daily basis, when you feel neither lethargic nor uneasy, there’s nothing wrong in embracing the classic undergraduate jumper-and-skinny-jeans combination. It’s practical and seasonally appropriate, so take full advantage. And if your day really is abysmal, then feel no guilt in wearing your most sluggish attire and eating a whole pack of digestives. But also remember: there’s no longer a need for ‘Sunday best’. We have the freedom to wear the clothes that empower us as often as we wish, and we should take full advantage of this.