THE BLOG
08/06/2014 11:10 am ET Updated Oct 06, 2014

Clothes Really Do Make the Person

I've been doing a lot of shopping lately (this could be a manic shopping spree, although the mania is starting to come down). With my 23-pound weight loss, I've decided to buy clothes that I feel great in. I've missed getting dressed. I really miss my wardrobe. All last year I felt frumpy and fat. A number of people (family, coworkers, strangers) asked me if I was pregnant. My response was, "No, I'm just fat." It is beyond me why people think it is appropriate to ask a woman if she is pregnant. I found their question highly offensive and invasive.

Psychology Today recently published an article on the link between mood and clothing. Caring about your appearance is not frivolous or narcissistic:

When a University professor asked students to put on Superman t-shirts, there was a scientific reason behind the request. Professor Karen Pine wanted to know whether the heroic clothing could really have an unconscious effect on the students' thought processes. Her suspicions were confirmed. She found it boosted their impression of themselves and made them believe they were physically stronger than control groups. This, and other discoveries of how clothing can change our minds, is the topic of her new book called Mind What You Wear: The Psychology of Fashion.

When wearing a Superman t-shirt, Professor Pine's students rated themselves as more likeable and superior to other students. When asked to estimate how much they could physically lift, those in a Superman t-shirt thought they were stronger than students in a similar t-shirt without the Superman logo, or in their own clothing. Through the book Pine reveals how people's mental processes and perceptions can be primed by clothing, as they internalize the symbolic meaning of their outer layers.

Last year my friends suggested I buy clothes that I felt good in. I didn't heed their advice right away. I wish I would have. But I did not like how my body looked in clothes. My stomach was huge (I really did look pregnant). The one good thing about the weight gain was that it was evenly distributed throughout my entire body. I finally had a big butt! I've always wanted a stereotypically-black body.

The article furthers the link between mood and confidence and clothing by saying:

She describes the link between women's moods and their clothing choices. Having found that women are more likely to wear jeans when feeling low or depressed, Pine explores how clothing can reinforce negative mood states. She also uncovers recent research into the link between mood and clothing, showing that when women are stressed their world narrows down and this results in them wearing less of their wardrobe, neglecting as much as 90 percent of it.

So choose your clothing carefully!