To relish the decadence of spending the days in pyjamas or to get yourself brushed and dressed? Senior Education Psychologist, Jenny Feeney, of Bucks County Council, argues that what we choose to wear is more significant than we might realise.

I hate running. But I consider it a necessary evil as it is free and can fit around my schedule. My first attempts at running came when I was living in Camden. I found running around streets that were populated 24-7 entirely embarrassing… and I gave up quickly. Finally, I decided to buy myself some actual running gear. It seemed strange but the mere act of putting on my running clothes gave me the anonymity I needed. I suddenly felt that people probably didn’t assume I was crazy or wonder why I was running around the streets but assumed that I was in fact a ‘runner’. And I felt, for those 30 minutes twice a week, that just maybe, I was a ‘runner’.

Like it or not, clothes play an important role in our social interactions. Clothes provide our brain with cues to people’s behaviours – think, ‘Oh that man is walking up to the house because he is a postal worker’ versus ‘Why is that man walking up to the house?’ And research shows clothes may even influence our own behaviour. Those who know me at work may have spotted my adherence to this view. They may recognise the range of outfits I wear for different roles; the suited and booted leader outfits for big events; the gender neutral shirt and jacket for working with secondary schools; the softer, brighter jumpers and dresses for primary schools; and the dangly earrings and long skirts for when I just plain need to channel the airy fairy psychologist :). My clothes allow me to project myself into who or what I need to be each day.

And so, even in lockdown I continue to use clothing to help me navigate that ‘groundhog day’ feeling. My full running gear comes out to help me match Joe Wicks’ energy during his daily torture sessions. My work clothes go on to remind my brain that even though I am sitting on my bed, I am in fact at work. And on Saturday nights, myself and my two little girls get our glad rags on… because lockdown or not the Feeney girls enjoy a party at the weekend.

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