When you’re trying to live through a global pandemic, figuring out what to wear is likely not top of mind. But according to Dr. Carolyn Mair, a behavioural psychologist and the author of The Psychology of Fashion, slipping into your favourite pair of jeans could help with anxiety and stress – after all, clothing is part of our identity. “Uncertainty brings with it fear of the unknown,” she says. “It’s very easy to lose a sense of value when we feel out of control.” We spoke with Mair about how fashion can help us navigate this new reality.


Save the sweatsuit for after hours. “When we create structure in our day, we get a sense of control over at least some parts of our life,” says Mair, adding that a routine allows us to maintain a schedule and focus better. “Our work clothes [often] represent productivity and pride in what we do.”


We form associations with our clothes through our experiences – everybody views their wardrobe differently. In other words, wear what makes you happy, whether it’s all black or pattern on pattern. “The power is in [people], not in their clothes,” says Mair. She suggests trying items on and asking yourself “How do I feel in this?” If the piece elicits a positive emotion, such as confidence or strength, that can be projected outwardly.


It’s important to feel like you’re still part of a community that matters to you. “During times like these, we need to feel pleasure and joy and we need to feel positive about ourselves,” says Mair. Stream online fashion shows, share your WFH outfit of the day on Instagram or relive the getting-ready jitters with your friends over video chat and dress up for a virtual happy hour. “[Just remember] that life will go on after this, and we will be okay.”

This article originally appeared in the June 2020 issue of ELLE Canada. Subscribe to ELLE Canada here or buy a digital copy of the June issue here.


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