5 Strange Ways Dress Affects Your Life.

There are many things we know clothes can, and can’t, do for us. We know that how we dress can make us attractive, associate us with a particular subculture, denote status, show off our wealth, etc. But there are other, subtler ways that dress influences us and people around us. And some of them are a little weird, but well worth knowing.

1: Your clothes change your mood and temper.

Something I have noticed about clothes is that what you wear can change how you feel on a very basic level.

For example, when I’m depressed I feel far worse when I stay in my pyjamas than when I get dressed. Why? Probably because I associate being in pyjamas all day with being in the worst state of depression.

On the other hand, when I wear more girlish clothes like my favourite brown dress, I feel happier and more excitable because I naturally associate them with innocence, girl scouts and fun.

Your clothes can actually make you feel the way you normally feel when you wear them. If you hate your work for example, you’ll probably feel worse in the type of clothes you wear for work.

2: Your clothes alter your posture and walk.

We know about this to a degree. Heels will make a woman’s hips stick out, make her steps smaller and make her arch her back backwards. Corsets will make someone walk, sit and move without bending their back.

But clothes alter our movements more subtly. When we brush against the hem of a skirt we can subconsciously start moving to avoid that brushing, for example. Or when something squeezes our hips we walk with our knees closer together. This is why you can sometimes get thigh chafing wearing a loose denim skirt but not from walking in a swimming costume.

By wearing clothes that hug your mid back, drape over your hips, free up the groin area and don’t weigh down too much on the shoulders and back we can walk more naturally, more upright and with smaller, more precise movements.

3: Your clothes change how people treat you.

And not just on the obvious level. Of course strangers will treat you differently based on whether you’re dressed as a goth, as a man, in businesswear or as a woman. But it runs deeper than that.

People will treat you subtly differently when you change tiny aspects of your clothes. When your clothes are a little bit more disheveled than usual people treat you as less significant and your words as carrying less weight. When you wear too much jewellery people can treat you as someone scatterbrained or artsy. When you wear androgynous clothing people will treat you a little more like someone of the opposite gender and a little more coldly.

But this isn’t restricted to strangers either! Even people who know you well and know how you normally dress will slightly change the way they address you based on small changes in your clothes. Wearing more black or less put-together outfits can make your friends a bit more dismissive and coddling, basically treat you more like a child. Family can put more weight on what you say when you’re in professional clothes.

How much of this is how the media teaches us to treat people and how much of it is your change in mood? I don’t know, but it’s definitely there and it’s very odd.

4: Your clothes impact on your health.

Again, we are aware of this to a degree. We know high heels are bad for you and skinny jeans may cause cellulite.

But the effect your clothes have on your health goes further. When you feel better you are less likely to be stressed and less likely to suffer stress-related illness. If you’re not depressed you are less likely to act in a defeatist manner and sabotage your happiness. So clothes that make you feel good will lead to behaviour that improves your health.

And when you wear clothes that give you good posture as well then you can end up adopting behaviours and movements that are better for your body, meaning you don’t wear yourself down physically too much.

Wearing fitted clothes that you like, associate with good things and that push your back in and your shoulders flat can result in better diet, better choices, a more solid back and an all round healthier you!

5: Your clothes can change your demeanour and confidence levels.

Tying in to everything else: what you wear can drastically change the way you carry yourself, the confidence you have and your comfort in yourself.

If you are happier in yourself, not stressed or sad or angry about anything and wearing clothes that make you feel happy and excitable, then you will have a more pleasant attitude and enjoy interacting with people more.

If you have good posture you will look confident. But confident posture helps with internal confidence. Just as forcing a smile or a laugh releases endorphines, when you walk like you’re confident, your body decides that you must be the boss.

If people treat you as someone who’s got it all together, who’s got good things to say and who’s fun and awesome to be around, then you’re definitely going to feel that they’re right after a while.

And if you’re healthier you will be proud of your physique, that extra glow on your skin and your great hair.

So choose clothes that make you feel happy, that help your posture, that get people treating you right, that improve your health and boost your confidence. Who knows? Maybe a change of wardrobe is just what you need to get your life on track after all.*

*Disclaimer: A change of wardrobe is not a solution for every problem, however cool that would be.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

What clothes make you feel great? Have you found that any items in particular make people take you seriously, or relax around you? Do tell!

What Difference Could Feminine Dress Make To Your Life?

Those who know me are well aware that I am not by nature a girly-girl or even anywhere near one. I like gutting animals, lifting weights and seeing my muscles grow, digging up the garden and watching fairly crude animes whilst drinking Gordon’s or Bailey’s.

I am also fortunate enough to be with a man who appreciates those aspects of me and even enjoys my tomboyish qualities. However, he also appreciates the feminine side to me, what with him being heterosexual and all. And one aspect of femininity that I don’t exactly mind and that he had appreciated in small doses was feminine dress.

So, to surprise him a little and see how it went, I applied some small changes to being more feminine. Nothing heavy. At least I didn’t feel like it was. Based on the differences I’ve observed, apparently it’s quite a lot!

Whilst it isn’t exactly the best approach, I tried starting with an idea of what I would and wouldn’t do. Not could and couldn’t. After all, I could do all my gardening in a sundress. It just happens I’m too messy and clumsy to not expose myself indecently whilst doing so and I love my dresses too much to get them muddy. So I could, but for those reasons I wouldn’t. I worked out I was willing to make small changes here and there, but not flip directly into 1950s housewife mode. In part to collect my data carefully, in part because I wasn’t sure I could keep up with full makeup, perma-heels, all dresses and jewellery. The concept of going from jeans or casual dresses to that was, well, scary.

However, with an outline established: try a little bit at a time and don’t go further if I’m not comfortable, but don’t avoid anything on principle either, I tackled my wardrobe first.

It wasn’t a massive overhaul. Most of the clothes I had suited me. I simply took some of my tattier t-shirts and relegated them to garden and gym clothes, donated anything that didn’t suit me in terms of colour and then replenished my wardrobe on the cheap. So now my wardrobe is almost entirely purples, greys, creams, blues, greens and denim, with two very orange pieces. It is also almost entirely in good shape, feminine and form-fitting, rather than baggy, masculine and tattered.

The next step was makeup. This was a little daunting because, other than when I’m teaching students from countries with different definitions of professionalism or when I’m going out, I didn’t really think makeup was worth the time. My hands are often a bit shaky and my experience was low, which probably added to the time factor. So, instead, I got a nice palette of shadows in water colours that suit me and some eyeliner, and red lipgloss and lipsticks. Just a dab of concealer, a dusting of eyeshadow, a line over and/or under the eye and a bit of colour into the lips. When I was feeling brave and/or steady I would curl and tint my eyelashes, because they’re quite straight and thin naturally. The key here wasn’t just to use a subtle touch of makeup, but to prioritize the sort of makeup that covered my most obvious flaws and drew attention to my nicest features.

Next, I chose to tackle jewellery and perfume. Two almost alien concepts to me. When Jon told me he was looking for an engagement ring I told him he may as well get a wedding one to cover both events, because diamonds are flashy and overpriced and two rings would be too much jewellery for me. I only ever went beyond deodorant when I was going out for the night. Any other time and there was no way I would wear jewellery or perfume. So I organized my jewellery drawer and dug out my old perfumes, as well as got a plain eau de toilette that suited my natural scent. I made a point of wearing at least one item of jewellery and a few sprays of perfume in my hair every day. And I try and mix up the jewellery rather than just get in the habit of wearing the same one over and over.

My thoughts.

At the start, my thoughts were that it wouldn’t make much difference. Jon would appreciate it, what with him being used to me in girly-tomboy mode. It would take me a little longer to get up and dressed and ready. But that would be it.

However I was quite wrong. Firstly, it really doesn’t take much longer. Get up, deodorize, brush hair and teeth, throw anything on VS get up, deodorize, brush hair and teeth, pick out a top and a bottom that look nice, spray perfume and add a single piece of jewellery. Picking the jewellery to go with the outfit was probably the most time consuming aspect.

I was also wrong in that I thought Jon would notice and the world would keep turning as usual. Maybe I was being arrogant about how attractive I naturally am or maybe I was being dismissive of the alterations made, but things are definitely different when you make the effort to be feminine.

General response.

The first thing that surprised me was that with women nothing changed. Stereotype dictates that when you do your hair differently or wear a little makeup, women and gay men rave over it and straight men blink, peer and ask if you are wearing a different coloured top. But nothing could be further from the truth. Straight men notice. Men who know you in person will at least pass comment on it. Depending on the guy it could be:

“Is that top new?”

“That colour suits you.”

“Hair’s different.”

“Did you forget to fall through a hedge this morning?”

But they do notice. And, in terms of men in general, you do get more second looks. It’s almost as though your comfier clothes and makeuplessness is a signal that you aren’t part of their social group, but that little bit of style and makeup changes everything. You go from visible but uninteresting to interesting.

The most noticeable change was actually in younger men that I have more professional dealings with. Students, cashiers I stop and chat to, volunteers at charity shops, etc. It seems that that touch of social proof hidden in the makeup, perfume and a necklace elevates your status a lot more in their eyes than in anyone else’s, possibly due to their inexperience dealing with women relative to anyone else. They seem distracted, speak more awkwardly and lose track of conversation more when talking to a woman who is a little bit more feminized.

But other women? No difference at all. I’m not sure if I should be surprised or unsurprised in hindsight. On one hand, it is common knowledge that women can spot a changed hairstyle, new scent or piece of jewellery from miles away. On the other hand, straight women are probably more focused on their own appearance and lives than what their friends and relatives are wearing. And the average woman on the streets has no idea I don’t always dress this way and no interest in finding out. Of course women are less likely to pay attention to a girl just because she has a bit of makeup on. They have more important things to think about.

Jon’s reaction.

Pretty much positive. Being around me most of the day, every day, he was very aware when I started wearing a little perfume, sorted out my wardrobe or put on a piece of jewellery.

But that he wasn’t “tricked” doesn’t mean he didn’t like it! Wearing lighter, danglier, shinier clothes catches the eye and he liked seeing a bit of movement or sparkle when I walked past or cuddled up to him. His hands would move to the jewellery or the hem of my shirt more often when I was dressed more feminine than when I wasn’t. That allure of slight extra femininity made him respond in a way that suggests he is more attracted to and protective of me when I am softened a little.

Warmth and approachability isn’t just for single girls!

Jon’s thoughts.

“I definitely noticed.”

He felt there wasn’t much more to add.

Conclusion.

So feminine dress does make a huge difference… to the men in your life.

It doesn’t really interfere with your getting up time that much. And if you can lay out your jewellery somewhere so you aren’t fiddling with boxes then it may be a lot faster.

It doesn’t really change your perception of yourself. I look in the mirror and think “well that’s girly”, but it doesn’t bother or excite me to know I’m girlier. It’s just a fact.

It doesn’t really have an effect on other women. Either they know you and might comment, or don’t know you and don’t know you’re dressed up.

But the guys? They notice. Some of it on a primal level, some of it on a conscious level. And they seem to enjoy it, or at least the guy you’re with enjoys it.

So it’s up to you to decide whether that bit of extra attention, slightly broader dating pool or additional flirting with your partner is worth the bit of effort.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How To… overcome impulse buying.

Everyone impulse buys to a degree. When we have some spare money (or sometimes when we don’t!) and we see something on the shelf, in the window or on Pinterest that we want, a few times we will buy it. And every time we will feel the pull. But what if you could enjoy window shopping without coming home with anything? Or browse the supermarket and get only what you need? Or go charity shopping without buyer’s remorse? Or leaf through a magazine and not feel jealous? It is possible, but it involves some careful retraining.

1: Make lists.

The first trick is to make lists. We will look at a couple of sorts of lists but, as with organization and memory, writing any suitable lists can help you avoid distractions.

You will firstly write lists of what you need. The most common list in this category is the shopping list: what you set out to get. Another list is a general list, where you note what sort of things you need (vegetables, protein, soap), allowing you to go with cheaper or better options when available. And another of my favourites is a permissions list, where you note what things you can buy if you spot them, allowing you to buy things you can stock up on, like freezables, canned goods and soaps when they are cheap.

And next you will write lists of what you want. This list is composed over the course of a week. Do not use it to write down everything you see that you fancy, because this interferes with step 3 and can make you miserable. Instead, when you see something you want, forget about it and wait two or three days. If after that it’s still on your mind, write it down. At the end of every week, have a look online to see what is the best way of buying one of these and whether it’s worth it. Often you will forget about most things before the day is out and become disinterested in other things when you consider their impracticalities with a cool head.

2: D.I.Y.

The next stage is to look at your list of impractical wants and ask yourself what you can make. These are the best things to start with. Often newbie diyers throw themselves in the deep end, not by making something too complicated, but by making something they need, or making something from their want list that wouldn’t be terrible to buy. When you try and start with things you need, you feel too much urgency and may mess it up or lose hope. When you try and start with things you would have bought anyway you are setting a standard you are bound to fall below, as it was already cheap, practical and suitable enough.

But by starting with things you wouldn’t otherwise have, you can ease your way into D.I.Y. and make it more worth your while. This means that your confidence grows and you end up relegating more and more of your wants to the D.I.Y. list, leading to fewer impulse buys. (Though your impulse crafting may skyrocket!)

3: Abundance mentality.

This term is often associated with the PUA community’s idea of viewing sex as plentiful, to stop young men thirsting for it and letting that thirst blind them. But whatever angle you take on that definition, it also applies to other facets of life, especially buying. You most resent not getting something when you think you can’t. You most dwell on something when you’re scared you may never be able to get one again. You most want to buy the less you are allowed to buy. This is a perfectly logical pattern for humans. When we deprive ourselves of things, our primitive selves assume they are scarce and, therefore, conclude it is more vital to grab them when we can.

What you need to realize is that you can afford that cupcake maker, those shoes or that ham hock. The money is there. You just don’t need it or really want it. Even if you don’t have the money in the bank, remind yourself that it isn’t because you have no money, it’s almost certainly because you prioritized another luxury, like smoked salmon, a new bag or some yarn for knitting.

Even if you can’t actually afford that thing at the present moment, it is better to train yourself to assume you can afford it, but don’t really need or want it. That way you are less likely to impulse buy when it is on offer, or when you find a similar item!

4: The second trip.

This is something that can very quickly annoy people you shop with, so it’s best applied when you are out on your own. Every shop requires two trips.

When we are shopping because we need something, we often pick up things we may not need. Start at the tills and browse your way around the supermarket. Put the things you came in for at one side of the basket or trolley and the things you picked up at the other side. Then, make your way back the same way you came. Put back anything you have changed your mind about in this time. I have no idea why this works so much better than just not picking it up in the first place, but it does!

When we are browsing, we often find ourselves shopping. Sometimes this isn’t so bad for a bit of fun and when we find things we like, but shopping sprees are rightfully seen as binge activities by many. Again, start at the end of town where your car is or where you will exit. Work your way through the shops in order. Don’t buy anything, just enjoy  browsing, take mental note of the items you like and their prices and carry on. On your way back, don’t go into any shop where you didn’t find anything you still want. If anything is really pulling you, just pop into the shop and, looking at it in your hands, ask yourself if it’s worth the price.

Your double trips may seem excessive, but the amount of money, stress and confusion they spare is helpful beyond belief.

5: Allowance.

Another trick is to give yourself a random expenses allowance. The allowance isn’t the random part, the expenses are! When you tell yourself you are only allowed one frivolous item or spontaneous purchase a week, it makes it a lot easier to control pointless clutter and lots of tiny buys. When you tell yourself that you have £X to spend on unplanned purchases, you spend less on each item. Whatever your impulse problem is, place a restriction on it. Preferably at half or below half your current levels. Ideally down to £5-10 or one single item.

This on its own can be hard to keep up, but combined with double trips, shopping lists and a well-cultivated abundance mentality, it is fairly easy to stick to even a ridiculous restriction.

The one caution is not to restrict it to nothing. The reason for this is the “diet effect”. The same way that someone on a low-carb diet will eat an apple and throw the diet out of the window for a day, someone who is not allowed to spend spontaneously will pick up one unplanned item and find their basket full of twelve more unplanned items. Rather than do this, having a little leeway will help you focus and allow for human error.

6: Practical shopping.

One sort of impulse buy that we can let go a little and go crazy on is practical purchases. When you find things on your permissions list, don’t stop yourself getting them. If you find something you will genuinely make good use of within seven days, contemplate a little, but you’re likely better off getting it.

Sometimes, going on a shopping spree with “anything for the house” or “ten new shirts” in mind can be very similar to going on one where anything goes. Of course, minus the guilt trip afterwards!

And those are my six steps to defeating impulse buying!

What are your tricks for avoiding spontaneous spending? What things do you find harder and easier to resist? Do share in the comments!

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

How To… declutter your wardrobe the easy way.

Spring cleaning time! We’ve already addressed the clutter in your house. How about we take a look at our wardrobes next? I know, I know: “The horror!” You, like me and pretty much everyone, hate the idea of clearing down your wardrobe. And I get it. It’s always been time consuming, we never know what to part with, we hold onto something and everything “just in case” and eventually we are done, with nothing to show for it but a couple of wasted hours and a top with a few holes in it that maybe we’ll throw away, reuse or thrift (we never do).

So here are some foolproof steps to clearing down your wardrobe the easy way.

1: Sort everything by season.

First of all, none of these tricks work properly is your jumpers are between your sundresses and your shorts. Try and separate your clothing by the seasons there are in your country. Maybe there’s just a dry and a wet season, maybe the Spring and Winter are very obvious, but the Summer and Autumn are similar. However you do it, sort your clothes by the season you’re most likely to wear them.

2: Get storage boxes.

One marked “mending”, one marked “rags and upcycling”, one marked “charity”. Keep the mending one near your sewing. Keep the other two somewhere you can easily move them into your room several times a year, but where they’re out of the way for about 300 days of the year!

When you come across something that’s broken that should be in your “keep” pile, add it to the mending box. When you come across something that’s too bad to give away, put it in the rags box. When you come across something nice that isn’t right for you, put it in the charity box.

3: Use the hanger trick.

Go through this season by season. Hang all your seasonal clothes the wrong way around. Put your seasonal tops and underwear and whatever else upside down in drawers. And just use them all as normal. At the end of the season, whatever’s still the wrong way round hasn’t been used and probably won’t really be missed.

When it comes to work clothes and formal wear, keep them in rotation for a full year. If they get no use in a year, then you probably don’t need them.

Once the first year is up, we move onto stage two of the sorting.

4: Sort it by size.

We all do it. We keep clothes that don’t fit. Maybe they’re from when we were a different size, maybe they shrunk or stretched in the laundry, maybe we were given them. Whatever it is: you don’t need them.

Most people have two sizes they hover between over the course of the year. In my case it’s a small to a large 12, or a large 10 to a small 14. So first make a pile of your range, be it 8-12 or 10L-14S. Everything outside that pile, unless it’s an overgarment you regularly wear over many other clothes, can go.

Next, look through your “keep” pile for anything that only just fits and take it out of the pile. Just because the label says it fits or it sometimes looks OK doesn’t mean it actually fits.

5: Get a theme going.

Like it or not, we all have colours, cuts and styles that suit us. Depending on where you like your variety, try and theme your wardrobe. It’s fine to have a gothic wardrobe full of various colours and cuts, a dress wardrobe full of various styles and colours or a wardrobe that has a bit of anything blue, green and grey.

But if you have a wardrobe with clothing in styles ranging from hippie to emo, in cuts ranging from grungy to classic dresses, in all the colours of the rainbow, you will soon run out of things to wear. Why? Because not only should your wardrobe suit you, your clothes should match. When your clothes largely have something in common you don’t run out of combinations or ideas. So find out what colours suit you best, what your personal style is and what cuts and items are best for your life and see what theme you can work out that meets all your needs.

So now we’ve worked out what to keep, we have three daunting boxes ahead of us.

6: Make a mending pile.

So, this is one of the only two parts where you will actually have to sort the traditional way. Sit down and organize your loved, well-fitting, themed clothes that need mending. Sort them by the type of repair: darning, stitching, patches, rehem, reline, bleach. Then, find a day when you have enough time to repair one group. Do this until you’ve repaired the whole box.

7: Repurpose.

Another part where you have to sort traditionally. Arrange the clothing by fabric type so you can easily access them when you need them. Then, put them in your stash or put them away.

Ideas for old clothes include: dishrags, carseat covers, aprons, cushion covers, hanging organizers, under-table hammocks, patches for mending, etc.

8: Give away.

Finally, take what you’re going to give away. First try offering items to friends or family. Whatever they don’t want, put through the wash, fold and give to a local charity shop.

And that’s how to declutter your wardrobe the long, but very easy way. Not only have you got rid of your clutter, you’ve also got a better wardrobe, fixed your damaged clothes, got an endless supply of dish and wash rags, given to charity and hardly thrown away a scrap of fabric! How about that?

How do you declutter and sort your wardrobe? How do you reduce your fabric footprint? What is your fabric stash like? Do you reuse much? Please share your ideas, thoughts and advice in the comments!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!