Get happy with colour­ful clothing

Fashion Quarterly - - Inside -

Candy bright colours. Faux fur back­packs. Se­quins in the day­time. Any­thing with goo­gly eyes… some call them ‘happy clothes’, oth­ers call it ‘YOLO dress­ing’, and here in New Zealand, we’re not very good at it. “Black, black, black. They love it,” wrote Bri­tish fash­ion ed­i­tor Lisa Arm­strong about the New Zealand fash­ion set’s ob­ses­sion with gloomy gar­ments. That was in 2004 when the then-fash­ion writer for The Times was a guest at New Zealand Fash­ion Week, and well over a decade later, the som­bre styling seen on and off our lo­cal run­ways is ev­i­dence that not a lot has changed.

You could blame Zambesi, NOM*d, World and Karen Walker. At

Lon­don Fash­ion Week in 1999, the press-coined ‘Big Four’ made a com­bined splash on the in­ter­na­tional stage with their (mostly) moody col­lec­tions. De­scribed by re­view­ers at the time as ‘edgy’, ‘dark’, and ‘in­tel­lec­tual’, it ce­mented our rep­u­ta­tion — and fix­a­tion — with black.

If you asked lo­cal fash­ion his­to­rian Doris de Pont, she’d say our predilec­tion for black has more to do with the New Zealand psy­che. “There’s a dark as­pect to our na­ture, a melan­choly,” she wrote in her 2012 book of es­says, Black: His­tory of Black in Fash­ion, So­ci­ety and Cul­ture in New Zealand.

This isn’t to say we are all ut­terly mis­er­able. Aca­demic re­search, how­ever, paints a dif­fer­ent pic­ture. A 2013 study from the Univer­sity of Hert­ford­shire found that wom­ens’ clothing choices were heav­ily influenced by their emo­tional states. In a low mood, 57% would wear a baggy top com­pared to 2% when happy. Con­versely, they’d be 10 times more likely to put on a favourite dress when happy (62%), than when feel­ing de­pressed (6%). The up­shot of the study was that we grav­i­tate to­wards clothes that suit how we are feel­ing on any given day — and it makes sense. When you’re un­der a cloud, noth­ing feels more com­fort­ing than a suit­ably storm-coloured knit. But does that make an es­sen­tially mono­chrome wardrobe a sig­ni­fier of some kind of la­tent de­pres­sion?

Ac­cord­ing to an­other study by psy­chol­o­gists Adam D. Galin­sky and Hajo Adam, the con­cern isn’t that your clothing re­flects your mood, but af­fects it. Their re­search ex­plored the ef­fects of wear­ing an iden­ti­cal

Splashed across

your face or a T-shirt, a smile is con­ta­gious, so get out there and spread those pos­i­tive vibes

white lab coat upon two groups of par­tic­i­pants — the first group be­liev­ing that the coat was a doc­tor’s coat, and the sec­ond be­liev­ing it to be a painter’s. It even­tu­ated that those wear­ing the ‘doc­tor’s’ coat were able to bet­ter con­cen­trate on a set task than those wear­ing the ‘painter’s’ coat, and thus the mind-al­ter­ing abil­i­ties of our clothes were con­firmed.

The key in­fer­ence we can draw from this study is that happy clothes are the only thing stand­ing be­tween you and a perkier per­son­al­ity. How, now, to in­te­grate said happy clothes into your wardrobe with­out look­ing like an ex­tra on a chil­dren’s tele­vi­sion show? There are two ap­proaches. The first is to ease into it as you would with any tricky trend, which means ac­cent­ing your usual grey marle and denim with play­ful ac­ces­sories — think fun phone cases, fluffy bag charms, and silly state­ment ear­rings. It’s a band­wagon that brands from Moschino to Miu Miu have jumped on. No one, how­ever, has mon­e­tised it bet­ter than Bri­tish de­signer Anya Hind­march, whose suede ‘stick­ers’ in cute shapes in­clud­ing fried eggs and space in­vaders start at $100 USD, and af­ter four years on the mar­ket, re­main in hot de­mand.

It’s no won­der. These are try­ing times we’re liv­ing in, and we could prob­a­bly all use some cheer­ing up. Which is why we rec­om­mend the scarier, but un­doubt­edly faster-act­ing im­mer­sion method, for which you’ll want to take your cues from the Ital­ians. That’s right, we’re talk­ing the head-to-toe happy clothes that fash­ion blog­ger Chiara Fer­ragni and Vogue Nip­pon ed­i­tor-at-large Anna Dello Russo are both fa­mous for. Have you ever seen ei­ther scowl­ing in a street style snap? Ex­actly. So do as they do and em­brace all things fruity, frilly and fuzzy. Or per­haps pasta is your thing? Dolce & Gab­bana has a dress for that. Cats? Go for Gucci. A multi-coloured cro­chet blan­ket your Grand­mother gave you as a baby? House of Hol­land. Add a Pucci print, a sun­shine yel­low Max Mara vi­sor, and a Char­lotte Olympia pineap­ple purse, and get happy.

And as for an out­fit ad­di­tion that will en­hance not just your mood, but those around you? You could share the love with Saint Lau­rent’s heart coat, but for an eas­ier op­tion, look no fur­ther than the happy face mo­tif. Whether it’s splashed across your face or a T-shirt, a smile is con­ta­gious, so get out there and spread those pos­i­tive vibes.

Stella McCart­ney iPhone case, $113, from Net-a-Porter Shellys Lon­don boots, $341, from Nasty Gal

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