OPINION: Clothing can affect your mood

Maleigh Crespo, Equity and Inclusion Officer

Whether you take the time to style an outfit before bed, throw on whatever’s clean in your laundry hamper, or grab what jumps out at you in your wardrobe, we all have a unique way of dressing ourselves.
Personally, I like to plan my outfits ahead of time based on the next day’s activities. Meeting with my editor on Tuesday? I’ll be wearing a floral dress with sandals. Spaghetti in the Orleans Room on Thursday? You won’t catch me wearing white. One class on Friday? You’ll see me in my pajamas.
No matter how you choose to clothe yourself to tackle the day, the things we put on our bodies have an inherent affect on us – from pattern, material, cut, and color.
Color psychology is a major factor in how our clothing affects us, how we feel, and how we make those around us feel. It’s the reason we wear black to funerals and why the color yellow often emotes positive feelings. Our clothing communicates for us in the same way our body language does — nonverbally. According to a study by the London Image Institute, 90% of people’s immediate reactions to others are influenced by the psychological effects of color alone.
Beyond color, more often than not, our clothing can be emotional entities. Whether it’s the t-shirt you won at a basketball game when you were seven, a band tee that’s signed by your favorite artist, or the dress you wore when you got your first big job, the feelings associated with articles of clothing can turn an okay day into a great day. I mean, imagine how you feel when someone compliments you, and you get to gush about your sentimental apparel. Who doesn’t love that feeling?
However, the clothing effect isn’t always positive because many of us have a complicated relationship with clothing. This could stem from issues with our bodies, the lack of size inclusivity and affordability, and the overall lack of representation in fashion.
Consequently, in the same way our clothing affects us, the way we feel about ourselves, or in general, can affect how we choose to dress ourselves. A study conducted in 2012 revealed that 57% of women said that they would wear a baggy top when depressed versus a mere 2% who would opt for an oversized tee when feeling happy.
But I like to think we should wear our clothes rather than let our clothes wear us. Clothing should be used as an outlet to express ourselves outwardly because it can impact how we feel about ourselves inwardly.
If you’re a Loyola student and you’ve ever visited The Market or the campus Subway, I’ve probably rang you up or made you a sandwich or two, and I’ve probably done it with a smile on my face. But here’s what you don’t know: I absolutely dread going to work. When I get out of class and have to change into my work uniform, it’s the worst part of my day. In fact, the act of getting ready for work feels worse than the job itself because I am forced to strip myself of my individuality. And that may not be a big deal for some, but for me, it’s not easy.
I usually start by putting on the collared, “Loyola Dining” embellished shirt, exchanging my patterned hair accessories for a plain black hair clip and a hairnet, taking out my bold earrings, carefully placing my name tag on the front of my polyester shirt, and lacing up my all-black, non-slip Walmart tennis shoes.
This simple change in outfit shifts my entire mood for the day. While I still try to maintain an upbeat demeanor, it’s hard when it feels like your body is entrapped in a cage of black fabric.
But I am so often reminded that the barricades of my body are only temporary. In a few short years, the job I held in college will be a thing of the past, but for some, this isn’t just a short-term college job. It’s their livelihood.
I don’t take my freedom to express myself for granted, and I no longer care about the opinions people may have about my appearance. I dress myself and my body in a way that makes me feel comfortable and confident. It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing a baggy tee that hides your frame or a crop top that allows your belly to be free, as long as what you are wearing makes you feel like the most authentic version of yourself.

So, the next time you have to get dressed and can’t decide what to wear, choose something that’s going to make you feel good, both inside and out, because it’s a privilege that can truly make a difference.