Many women would recognise the happy feelings they get from buying the ‘perfect’ dress or wearing an outfit that they know they look amazing in, but could there be a real link between this euphoric state and mental health? In other words, does fashion have the power to enhance your mood and your outlook?

There is a growing interest in the answers to these and more questions among fashion psychologists, and in the month where the eyes of the world focus on mental health, (10 October), Karen Arthur, a fashion designer and founder of women’s bespoke clothing brand, ReddskinUK, is carrying out a study to see if clothing choices can indeed elevate our mental wellbeing and if yes, how.

Can fashion and clothing enhance your wellbeing?

Her research will build on the knowledge that women of colour are twice as likely to be diagnosed with mental illness than their white counterparts yet access to treatment doesn’t match this worrying trend. Another consideration is that women aged over 40 often have additional hurdles when it comes to accessing support, due to societal expectations and the reality that mental illness has in some instances been tied to the onset of menopause. For this reason, the research is specifically focused on women who identify as hailing from the African diaspora.

Can fashion and clothing enhance your wellbeing?

Karen plans to use the findings to apply for further academic research once completed. Speaking about her study, Karen said:

“Please take a few minutes to take part in this much-needed research. It will help us to understand whether our clothing choices can elevate mental wellbeing through different ways, be it through a happy memory, vibrant colour, tactile fabrics or heritage clothing. I use the hashtag #wearyourhappy on social media and would love to be able to prove definitively that you can really wear your happy!”

Click here to access the anonymous three-minute survey.

Karen is giving a lecture on this topic as part of Costume Institute of the African Diaspora at LCF on 27 October 2017. Click here to find out more.


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