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Can a great outfit lift your low mood?

Everyone knows that lipstick sales always go up in recession – providing affordable cheer in troubled times – so by that logic, can a really great outfit (or outfits!) help with low mood? Stylist Gilly Woo considers the role of clothing in feeling a bit more like you on darker days…

One of the most troublesome symptoms of menopause is the mood swings. One minute you’re happy as Larry, the next you feel like the world is against you and the slightest thing enrages you. Unfortunately, the clothes you wear will have no effect on your hormone levels, but being comfortable and confident in what you are wearing is definitely going to improve how you feel.

Fabulous fabrics

Bamboo socks, pants and camisoles will always lift your spirits. Bamboo jersey feels like silk but is antibacterial, moisture wicking, washable and beautifully soft to wear next to your skin. Get your base layers right and you’re on to a winner of a day.

Other mood enhancing fabrics are cashmere and silk/cotton or silk/wool blends. Anything that feels soft and luxurious against your skin is bound to make you feel good.

If you’re on a budget look out for luxurious fabrics in charity shops and at vintage markets, or treat yourself to a glamorous versatile silk scarf. A silk scarf is a lovely way to add colour to an outfit but can also act as a good cover up if you suffer a hot flush and feel the need to remove some layers but don’t want too much skin on show.

Carefree colour

Choose your clothing colours wisely to keep you feeling great. Colour theory is a big topic, but in a nutshell:

  • Blue is a calming colour that can help lower blood pressure, it’s a great choice if you’re feeling annoyed.
  • Yellow and orange can brighten your mood and make you feel joyful, wear these colours when you feel down.
  • Green is known to reduce anxiety and it can help to clear your mind, choose to wear green when you feel anxious or tired.
  • Purple is a sensual and luxurious colour which is great for sparking creativity.
  • Red can raise blood pressure and is definitely to be avoided if you are feeling irritable! Interestingly, pink has been proven to have the opposite effect and can calm the nerves, and relieve feelings of anger or aggression.

Ethical effect

Wear things that make you smile. Invest in ethically made pieces that you understand the history of. Cherish your clothes and value the workmanship in them. Get your favourite things altered so that they fit your figure just how you like them to and so that they become unique and special to you.

Studies show that gratitude is a great happiness enhancer so be thankful for your favourite clothes and to the people who made them. If you’re having a bad day put on clothes that invoke compliments when you wear them.

Closet cull

Clear out your closet twice a year. Getting rid of clutter and creating space in your wardrobe will help declutter your mind and create space in your life too.

Here are my five steps to a streamlined, joy-giving wardrobe – I’ve been living by these since way before the Kondo effect took hold, and promise they really work!


  1. Be ruthless! You know what you feel great in and wear regularly. Put that stuff neatly back in your wardrobe right away.
  2. Then add your occasion wear, outfits you might wear to a ball or a wedding which you really love but don’t wear very often.
  3. Go through the rest of your clothes and throw away or fix anything that’s worn out, torn or stained.
  4. The rest of your clothes shoes and accessories put in a box with a date on three months from now. Anytime you want to wear something take it from the box, wear it and then put it back in the wardrobe.
  5. After three months, give what’s left in the box to a charity shop. If you haven’t worn it in three months you probably never will. Having a streamlined functional wardrobe will definitely make it easier to get dressed every morning but it’s also easier to keep neat too.

Ace accessories

Choose jewellery that inspires you or that is sentimental. Maybe get a piece made if you have an idea for a design that you would like. Or better still, make yourself something. There is a growing body of evidence which suggests that doing creative activities enhances your mood and alleviates depression so buy some beads, have a look on Youtube for tutorials or take a jewellery-making class.

If you don’t fancy making something to wear but you still want to embark on a creative endeavour to make you feel better, there are a great range of adult colouring books you could try.

One last tip? Carry on complimenting

When you meet a friend or work colleague try to find something you like about their look today and pay them a genuine compliment. It might just make their day, especially if they are feeling a little low, making people around you feel good will make you feel good so everyone’s a winner!

About Gilly Woo

Gilly Woo – known to her family as Gill Cockwell – began her sewing career at the tender age of six and was sketching designs and fashioning garments by the time she was ten. Since 2000, she has built a brand synonymous with quality, individuality and style – though most of all, she helps women find and express their most confident, fabulous selves. From dresses cut to dazzle for brides who use wheelchairs to red carpet looks featured in magazines and worn to The National TV Awards Gill’s portfolio is as diverse as the people she’s worked with. She’s an experienced stylist on magazine photo shoots and catwalk shows, has taught hundreds of people to sew, and has even stepped back in time on TV…

Read Gill’s full biography here

You might also be interested in…

The bliss of girl friends – Angi Egan on relationships to cherish

Is it the menopause or is it life? – Deborah Lancastle gives a Health Psychologist’s perspective

Mood changes during menopause – does what you eat make a difference? By Rosie Letts

Gilly Woo Gilly Woo Stylist