Is fashion frivolous?: The impact of fashion on our mental health and how it can change the world

by Kate Hall August 28, 2018

Is fashion frivolous?: The impact of fashion on our mental health and how it can change the world

Kowtow Clothing

We’re all so vastly different: our days never match anyone else’s. But there is one thing that all of us do, every single day… we get dressed.

Fashion is something we all have in common. We use it to identify our careers, our personalities, our moods, aspirations, hopes, and dreams. Fashion is crucial to the running of our society. Heck, you’ll be arrested if you’re found not to be wearing it!

But fashion also has a bad rap for being frivolous. Why care so much about what you put on your body, when there is world hunger and natural disasters hitting our world daily?

Should we care as much about it as we do?

Perhaps we should wear potato sacks, empty our wardrobes, and spend more time standing between rainforests and bulldozers. But fashion is not frivolous; it can positively impact our mental health, and make positive change.

Fashion can positively affect our mental health

No one can deny the giddy feeling you get when you put on a dress that fits you perfectly, makes your eyes pop, and feels like a second skin. Fashion can make us feel good, and that’s okay, we shouldn’t feel guilty for feeling good. 

Fashion affects our moods and mental state. If we’ve been feeling down or sick, getting out of our PJs and into a decent outfit, works wonders. We can take the force of fashion for granted, and become embarrassed if we’re seen to care so much about it.

Yet too often we get caught up on the negative effects of fashion on our mental health, to realise how it can affect us positively. It’s true that magazines negatively affect our mental health when they present ideal, unrealistic, body images and tell us what we should look like. But equally, body empowering messages of feeling great in your own skin, and rocking who you are, can elevate our mood and mental state too. 

Ethical fashion

Thought clothing

Fashion is empowering

Even though we are much more than what we wear, the truth is, our outer skin is the first thing people see of us. Regardless of our heroic loyalty, how good we are at maths, or the pleasantry of our company, the clothes we wear will be the first impression for new acquaintances, and reinforce who we are for others. Wearing something that empowers us, will help our words flow, give us self-confidence, and allow us to communicate with others to our best ability. If we’re feeling great on the outside, chances are, these feelings will seep into the inside.

Fashion is a tool for positively changing the world

“Changing the world one dress at a time.”- Emma Watson.

Emma Watson uses fashion to change the world. She’s an activist, supporting sustainable fashion through what she wears, and educating consumers around the power of consumption. Emma Watson uses fashion as a prop to get the world to listen to her. She takes advantage of fashion being the face of feminism, and has impacted the lives of thousands through her bold fashion statements at events and bra-free image on the cover of Vogue Magazine.

The fashion industry is huge and complex; 1 in 6 people work in the global fashion industry in some shape or form, and the mess of the fashion industry hurts millions. Participating in slow fashion, and standing up for those exploited by the industry, impacts the world in more ways than one.

No one can say they don’t care about what they wear. Regardless of our level of passion for fashion, we all choose what goes on our body, and that is a statement in itself, no matter the forethought. Fashion is not frivolous, it’s a medium for change and action. Fashion impacts our mental health, empowers us, and is an art form we can use to positively change the world.

It may just be a simple wooden necklace, but the conversation around what that necklace stands for, could simply change the world.

Kate Hall
Kate Hall


Kate is a word smith, kombucha addict, serial smiler, and zero waste enthusiast. She believes life's too short to think of yourself as one tiny person who can't make change. Slow fashion and green living are what gets her up in the morning, and her hand-raised bird will forever be found nuzzling into her shoulder.

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