reports2021/01/08

How Clothing Influences Our Wellbeing

Photographs by Manimekala Fuller

Our minds and bodies are inextricably linked and the physical condition of our bodies has a considerable impact on our mental and emotional health, whether we realise it or not. Here are a range of ways to harness the power of what you wear to help nurture your body and mind: 

Fabric

The skin is the body’s biggest organ, and just as we know of the impact of pollution on our pores, we should be conscious of what we cover our skin with. Skin is porous and absorbs minute chemicals, some of which are toxic and can build up over time to cause health issues. Since we spend almost all of our time wearing clothing, we must choose breathable natural fabrics that are certified free from nasty chemicals.

For example, organic cotton is grown without harmful pesticides, meaning it protects both your health and the health of everyone involved in its production, from the farmer to the weaver. Organic cotton is a favourite of ours, as it’s so versatile and can be made into everything from breezy summer dresses to thick twill jackets and super-soft cosy sweatshirts. 

Silk is a fabric that has been prized for centuries for its shiny lustre, but did you know it’s also hypoallergenic? Silk is ideal for people with sensitive skin or allergies (as well as anyone who loves softness… so basically all of us). It’s particularly good for covering skin and hair when you are sleeping, as the smooth surface of silk fabric will minimise irritation and hair breakage as you toss and turn. A silk scrunchie and silk eye mask are the perfect addition to a night of beauty sleep.

Colour

Some people find blue tones calming and soothing, others prefer comforting warm pinks and reds. Black can be a familiar favourite, or dark and depressing. It’s important to consider what colours uplift your mood and how to incorporate them into your clothing. 

Don’t think “I can’t pull that off” or “this colour doesn’t suit me.” I’ll let you in on a secret: the way to getting a colour to “suit” you, is to just wear it.

Focus on how your clothes make you feel, rather than how they make you look - a useful trick is to get dressed without looking in the mirror, which lets you concentrate on your body and feelings rather than getting distracted by looks. If that sounds like madness to you, practise on days when you’re not leaving the house, to build up courage and confidence. If clashing wild prints will give you energy but you’re worried about how others will perceive your new look, try it anyway! Lockdown is the perfect opportunity to experiment.

Silhouette

As we’ve spent more time than ever at home in the past year, think about how the silhouette of your clothes influences your posture, which then in turn influences your behaviour. For example, in sweatpants you might be more inclined to snooze on the sofa, whereas a cute blouse will make you feel more “put together” and mentally prepared to face the day.

Personally, when I have important meetings I like to wear a dress with a statement print, big sleeves, or a wide flared skirt (or all three!). Even if I am nervous on the inside, my outfit gives me confidence as my mere presence makes a statement and cannot be ignored. This works even better on Zoom when everyone is so bored of seeing each other’s walls!

Creation

Mahatma Gandhi once said “there is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness.” By choosing to support ethical fashion businesses, you are ensuring that everyone involved in the creation of your product is being treated fairly. Surely, the ultimate path to wellbeing is to ensure the wellness of others as well as yourself.

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