Why is Choosing an Outfit for School Often More Stressful than the Work Itself?

(Photo Source: Hannah Linehan)

(Photo Source: Hannah Linehan)

Hannah Linehan, Assistant Editor

While most students wake up with their minds occupied with what they are going to have for breakfast or what quizzes they have that day, clothes are the biggest thing on my mind.

For some reason, picking out clothes is one of my biggest stressors when it comes to the details of the school day. I am very meticulous in the outfits I put together, but I wonder why choosing the “right” outfit often causes me so much stress. Even though my closet is jam-packed with pieces of clothing in every color, I often say that I have no clothes, when in reality, this is very much the opposite. 

There are various aspects that influence my outfit planning process, such as what I have to do in school that day, what my friends are wearing, the weather, and the temperature of the school building. 

Picking out clothing during this year has been different from years past because of the temperature of the school. This may sound peculiar, but many have noticed that the inside of the school is considerably colder than normal and much colder than the outside. 

As I stare blankly into my closet each night, all of these factors rush through my mind and make it a much greater challenge than it should be. Deciding between dressing up or down or putting a coat on are questions that push me to the brink of insanity. Sometimes I wonder why it is often harder to pick an outfit for school than complete my actual homework assignments. 

It just so happens that Jo Hemmings, behavioral, media, and celebrity psychologist and dating coach, has done proven research that having “nothing to wear” can cause negative thoughts and anxiety. 

Hemmings notes that this is the “‘more is less’ theory, that when we are faced with too much choice, our already-overloaded brains simply get stressed and it leaves us feeling more concerned about choosing an outfit, than [being] liberated by the variety. In fact, a fairly minimal, capsule type wardrobe is probably the ideal to make us more satisfied and less anxious.”

This theory seems to make perfect sense, but even if I were to limit my clothing choices, I would feel as though I am over-wearing certain things. This brings about another source of anxiety, as some people feel as though they need to have an abundance of outfit rotations to show they are fashionable and not routinely boring.

However, many fashion bloggers and specialists argue that having a small wardrobe is much more beneficial to one’s overall mind and sense of being. One such fashion blogger named Jen, from The Simplicity Diaries, offers that a down-sized closet can help people “define [their] styles, create better outfits, understand the importance of good-quality clothes, care less about others’ opinions, always feel good in what [they] wear, and [have it be] easy-peasy to get ready.” 

Now, even though I can understand the positives of minimizing my closet, I am still apprehensive to actually do it. Even as I have then gone through my closet to try to remove pieces that I never wear, nor even like that much, I am always too hesitant to ever get rid of anything. This leaves me wondering if it is just my own indecisiveness, or is there reason behind this too?

While I definitely still cannot make a decision to save my life, there actually does prove to be some physiological science behind people’s inability to remove pieces of clothing from their possessions. Sure, it can be hard to get rid of one’s beloved childhood stuffed animal or toy because you are used to holding it, but why is it so hard to part ways with clothes?

M. Lafluer reports that people have greater trouble with letting go of the memories that a piece of clothing brings them, rather than the actual item. For example, many keep their wedding dresses stuffed away in the attic because they could never part with the memories that that special day brought them.

Once learning this, it explains why many cannot part with their clothes. However, we must learn to part ways with things and make room for new, future memories. 

As new minimalistic movements and trends become popular within newer generations, space enthusiasts have found various ways to declutter one’s closet. Getting rid of items you have not worth in six months is a sure way to weed out many outdated pieces that, in reality, you do not truly need- or even want. It can also help to think about the possibilities that your items can have with a new owner. For instance, if you had a shirt that you wore on a fun vacation, just think about how much fun someone else could have wearing it too.

While there are so many different aspects to consider when choosing an outfit, it is important to remember to have confidence in whatever you present yourself with, no matter if it took you an hour to pick out or ten seconds. Even as we become stressed when deciding between a pink or blue sweater, we can at least feel some relief in the fact that this stress has some scientific backing, and we are not going crazy.