Years ago, there was a guy who lived at a halfway house down the street from a friend of mine. He had some quirky habits but was known to be a very cheerful character.

Every day, rain or shine, summer or winter, he wore the same outfit: red short shorts, a red shirt, red cowboy boots and a red cowboy hat. In one hand he held a tennis racket, and in the other, a basketball.

As he walked down the street, smiling, he recited this little ditty: “You look good, you feel good. You look good, you feel good…” Clearly, he did.

 
 

That has also been one of my own mantras for quite a while.

Regardless of what life is throwing at you, I can guarantee you that if you pass a mirror and staring back is the image of someone who has taken a little effort to look pulled together, you will suddenly think, “Well, it can’t be that bad, I look pretty good today!”

Fashion After 50: The Science of Looking Good

It appears that there is research to back this up. Clinical psychologist Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner, who writes extensively about the psychology of dress, says, “Our clothes help place us where we think we want to be.”

When we dress a certain way we adopt the behaviors and attitudes that we associate with that attire. This is because what we wear has deep symbolic significance, psychologically.

We associate a person’s attire with their social status, perceived abilities, education, taste levels, etc. But these go beyond our beliefs and attitudes.

Science Digest described a revealing study in which students were told to put on a lab coat that belonged to a doctor. When they did, they were instantly able to focus and maintain sustained attention better.

There is also research indicating that the more powerful we consider the type of clothing we are wearing, the more powerful we feel.

Connecting the Outside to the Inside

Color does much the same thing. It sends feedback to our brains. Wearing our neutral colors makes us feel safe. Wearing color makes us feel more extroverted, alive and engaged with the world. The science behind the relationship between color and mood is extensive.

Wearing red helps a person feel more passionate and emotional. Wearing yellow or orange uplifts our spirits. Different shades of blue can make us feel calm, in command or conservative, and purples – from lilac to plum to royal purple – make us feel regal, refined or spiritual.

Still, the very best thing you can wear, if you want to transform your entire mood and mindset, is a smile.

Our brains contain four mood-elevating chemicals and hormones that help fight off stress. These four – serotonin, oxytocin, dopamine and endorphins – are released when you simply smile. It’s worth intentionally adding ‘smiling’ to your daily exercise checklist.

How Fashion Impacts Behavior

Most importantly, when we look good and feel good… we do good. Feeling secure in how we look puts us in the mindset of abundance, making it much easier to be kind.

Psychologist Nathaniel Branden confirms this: “There is overwhelming evidence that the higher the level of self-esteem, the more likely one will be to treat others with respect, kindness and generosity.” If you ever needed a reason to indulge in a little fashion retail therapy, there it is.

What are your favorite mood-elevating clothes and colors? Have you noticed your mood improve with changing clothes? What do you think are the keys to fashion after 50? Please share your observations below.

Andrea PflaumerAndrea Pflaumer is the author of “Shopping for the Real You: Ten Essential Steps to a Better Wardrobe for Every Women – Fashionistas, Fashion-phobes and the Over Fifty”, and “She’s Got Good Jeans.” She writes about fashion, style and the arts in the San Francisco Bay Area. Please visit her blog Shopping for the Real You.

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