The use of fashion as a mood enhancer and its effect on mental health in emerging adults in Canada during a global pandemic

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Wenderski, Malgosia
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Education
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Education
Literature demonstrates that clothing has a positive influence on aspects of mental health, and this study frames the use of clothing to enhance one’s wellbeing as a coping mechanism. The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted lifestyles as individuals were isolated in their homes in accordance with lockdown restrictions. There were global reports of isolation and diminished mental health (Rajkumar, 2020). It was unknown if emerging adults continued their high engagement with clothing during the peaks of the pandemic. The relationship between clothing, mood, and mental health is also unknown. This thesis surveyed 574 emerging adults (individuals 18 to 29) in Canada to investigate how the peaks of the pandemic had affected both clothing engagement and the use of clothing as a mood enhancer, and how this relationship impacted mental health. The mixed methods study found that participants either increased or decreased their engagement with clothing. Greater fear of COVID-19 predicted and positively correlated with fashion involvement and mood enhancement through clothing. Emerging adults reported multiple motivations to enhance mood through clothing, including bolstering the self concept, self-esteem, and comfort. While there was no relationship between mood enhancement and mental health, the thematic analysis revealed reports of both positive and negative effects of clothing on mental health. The study found that emerging adults used clothing as a coping mechanism to support their wellbeing. Furthermore, engagement with clothing, or a lack thereof had consequences to their experience. Participants shared that clothing enhanced their self-esteem, mood, self-empowerment, self-congruency, and self-efficacy. Emerging adults who did not sustain high engagement with clothing reported negative impacts to self-esteem, self-efficacy, connection with self, and mood. Future research is encouraged to further explore and clarify the relationship between clothing, mood, and mental health.
clothing , fashion , mental health , COVID-19 , mood , wellbeing , coping , coping mechanism