Clothing as Communication at All Ages

With the pandemic forcing many to spend so much time at home, you may not have given fashion much thought over the past year. If there is one thing that we have learned during the pandemic, however, it is the importance of communication. From the cut of our hair to the clothes and jewelry we wear, everything we do visually is a form of communication. Actively engaging in that communication can have a surprisingly positive effect on our state of mind.

Cognitive psychologists Hajo Adam and Adam Galinksy, from Northwestern University, examined the psychological effects that wearing specific articles of clothing have on the person wearing them. Adam and Galinsky identified the phenomenon called “Enclothed Cognition” which relates to the effect that clothing has upon a person’s mental process and the way they think, feel, and function, in areas like attention, confidence, or abstract thinking.

Much of the world is now facing the same challenge that professionals leaving the workforce for retirement have faced for generations — how do you maintain your identity when your home has suddenly become your whole world?

You may have thought that you have been dressing to impress other people for all of those years, but the truth is, clothing has a significant impact on our self-image. The way we dress, even when we do not directly interact with other people, can have a notable effect on productivity, energy levels, confidence and overall sense of well-being.

You may not want to wear a suit and tie or your best high heels around the house, but if wearing well-tailored clothing and nice jewelry is part of the routine that gives you confidence and brings order to your day, it is important to keep up the habit.

With so many style icons joining the ranks of the “over-60 crowd,” there is no shortage of inspiration for maintaining a wardrobe that keeps you feeling fresh and inspired at every age and stage of life.

Jane Seymour, Phylicia Rashad, Priscilla Presley and Helen Mirren all make life over 60 look like the most fun they’ve ever had with fashion. At 75, Mirren is proof that confidence comes with age and experience. “I used to worry a lot more about my looks than I do now – when you’re young and beautiful, you’re paranoid and miserable. I think the great advantage of getting older is that you let go of certain things.”

ANGELA BYRGE