Do the Clothes You Wear Really Affect How You Feel? - N. J. Lindquist

Do the Clothes You Wear Really Affect How You Feel?

When people asked me what I wore to write, I used to have an easy answer: whatever I have on. Jeans, cut-offs, a T-shirt, possibly pyjamas and a housecoat. Whatever. I mean, who’s going to see me, right? I’m sitting alone at a computer desk in my house. A New York publisher is unlikely to walk by.

My normal companion is my dog, and all she cares about is whether or not we have enough food and cookies and popcorn and water to last the day, and whether or not I’ll remember to take her for a walk and make certain she gets her after-walk treat. And, oh, yeah, what did she do with that cool squeaky toy she had just a minute ago? Ah, there it is. Nope. She’s not thinking about what clothes I have on or whether I’ve forgotten to comb my hair.

My husband is in the house, upstairs at his computer. He’s worked from home for quite a few years now, and revels in the fact that he no longer has to go to the office in a navy suit with a shirt and tie. He wears shorts, perhaps jeans if it’s way below zero outside, and a T-shirt. So he doesn’t exactly get upset with me if I don’t look spectacular. In fact, a couple of Olympics ago, he was at “work” in his home office at six AM on a worldwide call with people from Japan, Europe, the US and South America. One of our sons looked in, saw his dad sitting in his bathrobe with his feet up on his desk, his coffee at his fingertips, and the Olympics on TV, all while he talked on the phone and manipulated his computer mouse. And said, “I think I want your job.” Nope, my husband doesn’t care. Dressing down is the norm in my house.

And yet, a couple of months ago, I decided to change my lifestyle. When I get up, I dress in appropriate clothes for the treadmill or going outside for a walk. Then I have breakfast and do any necessary household chores. Then I dress for work and walk upstairs to my writing office.

If you’d been able to look into my office this week, you’d have seen the following:

Monday – okay, it was a holiday here, so I wore a yellow sleeveless cotton top with a pair of black cotton capris, low black strappy sandals, and yellow earrings.

Tuesday – I opted for black office-style capris, a purple deep V cotton top with winged sleeves, purple sandals with a kitten heel, and purple/silver earrings and necklace.

Wednesday – short-sleeved V-neck full-skirted dress (just below the knee) with black polka dots, black and red earrings, black sandals with a 2-inch heel

Today – blue/brown/turquoise print wrap dress (just above the knee) with brown jewelry and brown platform sandals.

Say what? Why go to all the trouble of dressing up to sit at a computer desk?

Has my dog noticed the change? She hasn’t indicated anything to me. Where’s my food? and What did I do with my toys? still seem to be her primary concerns.

Has my husband commented? Well, he did notice the bills from the stores where I’ve been shopping. But I assured him everything was on sale. Other than that, I don’t think it’s bothered him. I do have a sneaky suspicion he actually likes it, but he hasn’t actually said so. Could be after nearly 36 years together he’s used to my getting “ideas.”

As for me…well, "I feel pretty, oh so pretty…" Okay, I have to confess. Over the last few years, I’ve watched TLC’s What Not to Wear a gazillion times.

I’ve watched it partly because I’ve always been interested in clothes and dressing well. After all, my dad owned a clothing store, so fashion is kind of in my blood. I spent hours and hours designing clothes for my dolls. I even considered become a dress designer when I was trying to decide where to go to university. I used to help people figure out their colours. I mean, this stuff really interests me. I even managed to include a makeover in my first mystery! Hmm. Now that I think about it, there are actually two makeovers in my second mystery! (And neither one was planned.)

But fashion fun aside, the really reason I watch What Not to Wear is because I love seeing people transformed. I love seeing their eyes light up and begin to sparkle. I love seeing them walk with confidence, glad to be who they are. And while I know there are hurts and needs that can’t possibly be resolved with new clothes and a better haircut, I also know that one’s appearance needs to be part of any meaningful change.

So I decided to try an experiment. I decided to dress as if I was actually going to a creative, dynamic office – the kind of office I’d like to be a part of. And after a month, I’d look back and evaluate the process and see if I could see a change in me.

Stay tuned for my conclusions.

  • Gina says:

    I read this a while back but now I can put it into practice. Starting today, any days that I work from home, I am dressing up as if I am going out to the office, except for the footwear-I am not used to wearing shoes or slippers inside the house, I prefer freedom to wriggle my toes. I think this will help me stay focused and develop a good habit/routine. So, hi ho it’s off to work I go now.

  • Gina says:

    I read this a while back but now I can put it into practice. Starting today, any days that I work from home, I am dressing up as if I am going out to the office, except for the footwear-I am not used to wearing shoes or slippers inside the house, I prefer freedom to wriggle my toes. I think this will help me stay focused and develop a good habit/routine. So, hi ho it’s off to work I go now.

  • Colleen says:

    NJ, I’m eager to follow this experiment! My mother has always maintained that fixing oneself up in the morning — not matter what’s on the agenda — makes you feel more like being productive.

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