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The Psychology of Clothes

22 May 2023
 June is the group leader of Kenilworth u3a's Fashion Group which discusses a wide range of topics - including recently, the psychology of  fashion. In this article, she talks through some of the points raised in their session.
Your clothes reveal more about you than you realise.  They are an extension of who you are.  The message your clothes are sending may not be the image you want to give.
Poor self esteem and lack of confidence can affect the way we dress.  We may choose to wear dreary colours because we don’t want to draw attention to ourselves, or because we are worried about what others think.  This is especially true as we get older.
However, I believe it’s a ‘chicken and egg’ situation, because if we dared to wear brighter, more stylish clothes, we might feel better about ourselves.
Another possible factor affecting our choice of clothes is depression.  If we are depressed, we don’t have the energy or inclination to bother what we wear.  This is understandable.

Analyse Your Wardrobe

  • Is it cluttered?
  • Are your clothes mainly of one colour or in dull shades?
  • Does nothing match – are they uncoordinated?
  • Can you often not find the right thing to wear?
  • Are there gaps in your clothes (and perhaps in your lifestyle?)
  • Are there clothes you never wear?
  • Are you bored with your clothes?
  • Do you have too many clothes? 

Possible Reasons for Above

  • Poor self esteem or lack of confidence
  • Confusion over your identity/role
  • Feeling in a rut, bored with life, depressed
  • Hiding part of your body that you dislike
  • Your life is unbalanced:  too cluttered or too empty
  • You lack the energy or enthusiasm to change your life/wardrobe even if you would like to.

Possible Solutions

  • Self esteem and self confidence are the most important factors.  Try to imagine you are confident and you will begin to feel it.
  • Add novelty to your clothes – bright colours or something out of your comfort zone.  Start with accessories.
  • Try to define your lifestyle.  Is it casual or more formal?  Do you need clothes for work?
  • Get style ideas from magazines or trusted friends.
  • Simplify your lifestyle if you’re too busy – and, hence your wardrobe.  OR find new interests/social activities if there are gaps in your lifestyle.
  • If your body has changed, accept this, and get rid of clothes that no longer fit. 


Interest in clothes is often seen as frivolous – and to show a lack of intelligence or education.
However, I consider it more as a hobby , like anything else that interests us and gives pleasure.
Many people lack self esteem and self confidence.  We need to remember that it is our essence – who we are, not what we do, or how we dress, that is important.  If we can believe in ourselves more and trust our intuition, then we will become more adventurous in our dress and wear clothes we enjoy, regardless of our age or fashion.
A good book on this topic is:   ‘You Are What You Wear’  by Jennifer Baumgartner. 

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