Healthy aging encompasses more than just physical health and wellness. Focusing on purpose, connectedness, security, and autonomy are also important for quality of life. These areas of quality of life can contribute to a positive aging experience. However, there may be various factors that can become barriers for people to have positive views on aging.
Ageism, or stereotyping and discrimination of individuals based on their age, can negatively affect physical and mental health and wellbeing, affecting overall mortality (Span, 2022). Ageism and negative views towards aging are associated with poor cardiovascular health (heart disease, heart attacks, etc.), declining physical function, and Alzheimer’s disease. Alternatively, those with positive views on aging are at lower risk for cardiovascular events, have a greater likelihood of recovery from disability, and perform better on memory tests (Span, 2022). While there may be significant emphasis on being young in society, aging is inevitable and can be embraced positively in various ways.
Some ways to have a positive outlook on aging include participating in activities you enjoy. This can include maintaining an active lifestyle, staying socially connected, learning something new, and being involved in the community (National Institute on Aging, 2022). Activities such as physical activity, or teaching a skill can improve self-efficacy and self-esteem, resulting in enhanced quality of life (Seon et al., 2021). More specifically, leisure in the form a hobby or volunteer activity that is interesting, fulfilling, and utilizes special skills, knowledge, and/or experience can help promote a healthy lifestyle (Lee et al. 2019).
How We Dress
Another factor to consider is fashion. The way you dress is an extension of your creativity and how you present yourself. Some people may think that older adults lose interest in style and appearance as they age. However, fashion is a great way to express your creativity and personality (Queens Avenue, 2021). Additionally, the way you dress can also affect the way you think and feel, as well as your moods. Studies show that people who wear clothes that are comfortable and make you look and/or feel good are happier (Defilippo, 2015).
A focus on fashion can have various benefits (Queens Avenue, 2021):
- Fashion can build confidence
- The clothes you wear can have a positive effect on self-esteem.
- Wearing clothes that make you feel comfortable and stylish can boost self-esteem.
- Fashion is a mood-booster
- Wearing your favorite clothes or vibrant, colorful clothing and accessories can make you feel better.
- Fashion evokes nostalgia
- Certain clothes or accessories can remind us of specific memories from the past. These items can be a source of pleasure and joy.
- Fashion is self-expression
- Clothes and accessories allow you to express yourself and nonverbally show parts of your personality.
In addition to clothing and fashion affecting mood, the color clothing you choose can also affect your mood (Defilippo, 2015, Johnson, n.d.):
- Red: suggests positive feelings, power, and passion
- Orange: physical comfort, warmth, security, enthusiasm
- Yellow: happy, cheery, creativity
- Bright yellow: optimism and energy
- Green: calming and stress relieving, refreshing
- Dark green: wealth and growth
- Blue: relaxing and calming
- Dark blue: sense of authority and power
- Purple: sophistication, spiritual awareness, mystery
- Pink: soothing, physical tranquility, nurturing
- Black: professional, glamour, sophistication, security, emotional safety
- White: purity, clarity, simplicity
- Brown: nature, earthiness, reliability, stability
- Gray: neutral
- There is an absence of color so there is no direct effect on mood or other psychological properties
Overall, fashion and the way you dress allows for another avenue to expression of identity and to exercise autonomy (Twigg, 2007). Choosing what you wear is a form of independence that you can dictate and even use to help change your mood. Some may think that as you get older, fashion is not a priority. However, fashion is relevant to everyone, regardless of age. Fashion is an individual experience and allows each person to express themselves through clothing and accessories. You should feel comfortable and confident in the clothes you wear. Clothing and fashion can be a tool that keeps you viewing aging as a positive experience. Whether it be through the colors you wear or the type of clothing you choose, consider revisiting your closet and think about how you want to express yourself through your own style.
Defillippo, M. (2015). Look Good, Feel Good. Retrieved from https://sites.psu.edu/siowfa15/2015/10/22/look-good-feel-good/
Johnson, S. (n.d.). The Psychological Properties of Colour in Fashion. Retrieved from https://thriveglobal.com/stories/the-psychological-properties-of-colour-in-fashion/
Lee, Sanghee, Bae, J., Im, S., Lee, Sunwoo & Heo, J. (2019) Senior fashion models’ perspectives on serious leisure and successful aging, Educational Gerontology, 45:10, 600-611, DOI: 10.1080/03601277.2019.1675938
National Institute on Aging. (2022). Participating in Activities You Enjoy As You Age. Retrieved from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/participating-activities-you-enjoy-you-age
Seon, J. H., Jung, S. O., & Lee, K. H. (2021). Building a Runway to Subjective Happiness: The Role of Fashion Modeling Classes in Promoting Seniors’ Mental Well-Being. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(24), 13144. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182413144
Span, P. (2022). Exploring the Health Effects of Ageism. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/23/health/ageism-levy-elderly.html
Twigg, J. (2007). Clothing, age and the body: A critical review. Ageing & Society – AGEING SOC. 27. 10.1017/S0144686X06005794.
Queens Avenue. (2021). Dress to Impress: The Importance of Fashion at All Ages. Retrieved from https://www.queensavenueretirement.com/dress-to-impress-the-importance-of-fashion-at-all-ages/#:~:text=Fashion%20can%20build%20confidence.,looks%20good%20and%20fits%20well.