Overwhelmed? Let me guess – you’re a working mum, carrying bulk of the parenting responsibilities while trying to balance your career, family, home, health and of course, be their emotionally and sexually for your partner.
Because that’s what 21st century liberated Western women do, isn’t it?! With our eyes closed while balancing on three inch stilettos?! Oh, if only…
Instead of feeling liberated, independent and confident, many working mums are about to collapse into a pile next to three loads of washing – but not before cooking the family dinner/overseeing homework/bath/reading and getting everyone’s lunch sorted for the next day. (Three cheers to all the incredible dads out there sharing the work-family load 50/50 – we love you!).
Of course what most mums really want is HELP (and a 5 star resort holiday!). But sometimes getting that help feels about as elusive as that leprechaun holding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.
There is something that could help, though, and it’s quite possibly hanging in your wardrobe. It’s your clothes. Yep, those threads you slip into daily for work/play/gym can affect your confidence, efficiency, sex life, exercise commitment and more – for better or for worse.
It’s hardly new news. In fact, there’s oodles of research and studies that demonstrate the affect clothes (and clothing colour and fabric) has on wearers, as well as how others perceive them. One well-documented 2012 study by Professor Adam Hajo and Professor Adam D. Galinsky of Northwestern University, coined the term ‘enclothed cognition’ to describe the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes, including both the symbolic meaning of the clothes and the physical experience of wearing them. In short, they found that while performing tests, their subject’s sustained attention increased while wearing doctors’ coats compared to when they were wearing painters’ coats or no coats at all.
That’s not to say you should wear a doctors coat for your next sales pitch or job interview. But it does show how clothing (and the symbolic representations – in this case, doctors’ coats), can boost a wearer’s confidence, attention and efficiency.
So what can you wear to boost your mood, confidence, productivity, sexual desire and exercise commitment?
Dijanna Mulhearn, fashion semiotics expert, LG spokesperson and author of Wardrobe 101 for Mums: Fashion Formulas for Modern Mothers says the shape, style, colour and fabric of the clothes you wear can all help.
“The biggest mood booster is wearing clothes that you feel reflect your own style,” explains Dijanna. “Taking the time to understand that by looking at the clothes you wear – rather than the clothes you buy and never wear – is a good start. Then, look at buying shapes you love in more luxurious fabrics. Or look at buying colours you love in new shapes. Whenever you get something a little outside your comfort zone, make sure you understand one element of shape or colour well, or you will never wear it.”
And if we make poor clothes choices? “How we feel in our clothes can affect our demeanour – certainly if we are uncomfortable, we are distracted. However, a few natural fabrics are always reliable. Depending on the season and the occasion, a breezy cotton always feels crisp and fresh, Australian Merino wool has us feeling cocooned even in a suit and the sensual softness of silk feels sexy. Just remember that sexy may not be appropriate for that job interview or the office!”
Check out some other clever ways clothes can boost your confidence, sex life, productivity and fitness commitment!
For a confidence boost, find your signature style
Switching from mum to manager/professional/employee can be hard – especially if your child has just cried for ten minutes at the school gate, or you’re riddled with mum guilt because you forgot to pack fruit/give them money for the cake stall/missed the book parade…
Dropping the balls occasionally can crush your confidence on the home front, at the office, wherever. And if you’ve just spent 20 minutes trying to find something to wear to a meeting, you’re on the (double) back foot!
Fashion solution? Find your signature style. “I am a believer in signature style,” affirms Dijanna. “Understanding what you look and feel good in and wearing versions of that does not mean you are boring, it means you know yourself and are comfortable in your sartorial skin.”
Not convinced? Look to the style leaders.
“Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour have signature styles that are instantly recognisable and add to their image,” says Dijanna. “It can be much simpler too. Remember Steve Jobs and his Issey Miyake turtlenecks? Knowing his style and sticking to it left his mind to do great things!”
To feel sexy, wear body flattering lingerie in red
With bulk of the family responsibilities and juggling work, it’s easier for many women to push their relationship – and their sexual and emotional needs – to the bottom of the priority list. Who feels sexy when there’s a sink full of dishes to be done?!
According to Dr Emily Nagoski, an expert in health behaviour and human sexuality and best-selling author of Come As You Are: the surprising new science that will transform your sex life, “research across multiple disciplines tells us that the most important factor for women in creating and sustaining a fulfilling sex life, is not what you do in bed or how you do it, but how you feel about it.”
Not surprisingly, Dr Nagoski says that stress, mood, trust and body image are not just peripheral factors in a woman’s sexual wellbeing, they are central to it. “Once you understand these factors, and how to influence them, you can create for yourself better sex and more profound pleasure than you ever thought possible.”
So how can you feel good about it? Well, gaining control of all these factors by your 9pm booty call is ambitious, but it’s worth a shot! Even more so if your sex life has all but vanished or is more about keeping your partner happy than keeping the romance alive and yourself fulfilled (and those orgasmic hormones flowing through your veins!).
Do what you need to de-stress. Find your sexy mood boosters, whether that’s music, dim lighting, a sensual massage, reading erotic porn, whatever, and slip into your body-confidence-boosting best gear. What’s your signature sexy style? Lace, silk, leather, charmeuse, stilettos, stockings or your birthday suit?
If your body conscious after having babies or are carrying extra weight, find flattering clothes that emphasise your favourite parts and minimise your ‘conscious’ bits. And “make sure your clothes skim rather than cling,” suggests Dijanna.
Vertical seams, often used in corsetry, elongate the torso, adding shape, curves and covering your tummy. Chiffon negligees with lace detailing or silky sets can also cover your body-conscious parts while adding a little ooh la la to your bedtime routine. Ruching and gathering across bust can also make boobs look bigger, if you so wish!
If your partner needs a little sexual nudge too, wear red. Both human and non-human studies show that red enhances men’s attraction to women and works as a signal of ‘sexual receptivity’ in the mating game. Red. Hot!
To banish stinky exercise excuses, wear natural fibres
As a mum, I know I’m more likely to kick the footy at the park, do a yoga class or commit to a bay walk if I’m wearing runners and comfy, breathable, moveable active wear. But some of those moisture absorbent ‘wicking’ fabrics cause body odour and stink to high heavens after a five minute workout. It’s enough to make you hot-leg-it out of circuit training for fear of knocking your fitness buddies unconscious.
What gives?! “It’s all about the composition of the fabric that the garment is made of,” explains Dijanna. “Often synthetics don’t allow the area to breathe, which encourages a build-up of bacteria that can cause odour.”
Dijanna’s tip: “Stick to natural fibres if this is an issue and always air your clothes, or even better, steam them before you pop them in the closet. Knowing how to clean your clothes is also imperative. Invest in a time and space saving machine like LG TwinWash – it makes all the difference in your clothes wearability and longevity. It also saves on the time and cost of dry cleaning as it can be better for your clothes yet perform the same results.”
For super productivity, dress for the job you want, not the job you have!
As a freelance journalist writing for some of the nation’s biggest publishers, as well as managing my own website from the confines of my own home, it can be hard to switch from ‘mummy to boss’ in the same environment. And if you don’t get out of your trackies for hours and are surrounded by a house full of dishes and washing, it’s even harder!
According to Dijanna, the trick is to dress appropriately for the work, work environment and outcome you want to achieve. Think ‘power suit corporate’ and ‘quirky creatives’.
“In a traditional office environment, it’s important to have structure in a jacket or separate, however I always encourage my female clients to team this back with something softer or more feminine to showcase a glimpse of their personality and to own it as a woman,” explains Dijanna. “More creative environments are fun because you can wear clothes that truly reflect who you are. Just remember, no matter how interesting that is, it can all be undone if your clothes are dirty or ratty, so keep them looking clean and fresh.”
As for those trackies… “I love wearing track suit pants as I find the shape so comfortable, however I buy them in silky fabrics and team them with jackets and boots so they look upmarket,” admits Dijanna.
Dijanna’s Confidence Boosting Wardrobe Tips
- Make sure your clothes skim, rather than cling, and do not wear your clothes overly big as ‘big on big’ equals ‘baggy’.
- Section off areas that you are sensitive about. For example, if like me you are sensitive about your tummy, then layer clothes that form vertical sections like a blazer over a shirt. That way it tricks the eye into seeing the area as three smaller parts rather than one wide part, such as wearing a block coloured top.
- When using colour to section off areas, always make sure the colour on the outside is quiet and the colour in the middle is exciting so the eye doesn’t stray to the wider parts.
- Look at what you love to wear and find it in a more luxurious fabric. I love wearing track suit pants as I find the shape so comfortable. However I buy them in silky fabrics and team them with jackets and boots so they look upmarket.
- When choosing fabrics for yourself or children, I always look for organic fabrics or natural fibres such as cotton or wool. A lot of the chain stores are now doing organic lines for kids, so I head there first when looking for kids clothes.
How To Care For Your Fabrics
Steve Abbey, National Training Manager and Product expert for LG Australia shares his expert tips to care for your garments …
Q. How can parents wash and care for their good quality fabrics
A. “Using the appropriate detergent and washing programs will always assist in getting the best out of your high quality fabrics. Also, a front loading washing machine will be most gentle on these sorts of fabrics.
Q. How about delicates and lingerie?
A. “Use a gentle washing program. All LG machines that feature 6 motion wash technology have a program that uses a very gentle washing action. This is done through the LG Inverter Direct Drive motor system allowing for 1:1 control of the drum. In fact, with the new LG TWIN Wash® consumers can actually wash their delicates at the same time as their other laundry items, because this new washing machines lets you do two loads at once. The LG TWIN Wash® combines two washing machines into one system, with a 16kg capacity front loader and a Mini Washer beneath it with a 2.5kg capacity. The Mini Washer is perfect for delicates, as it is cold wash only. Instead of waiting to wash delicates/lingerie separately, consumers can now wash them at the same time as more heavily soiled items, like jeans or sheets/towels.”
Q. What’s the best way to wash and dry quality work shirts?
A. “Selecting the appropriate washing program is key. For cotton shirts, using the cotton washing program gives you the best results. On the drying side, a low temperature drying setting will always be best for your fabric, however it will take longer. If you are time poor, you can always use a faster or higher temperature setting. All LG dryers and washer/dryer combos are sensor dryers. These sense the moisture levels during the drying process to ensure items are not over dried. All LG dryers also use the condensing method of drying rather than a ventilation method, which is more gentle on fabric. Additionally, a number of LG washing machines come equipped with TrueSteam®, including the new LG TWIN Wash® system. TrueSteam® cleans on a microscopic level, attacking stains more closely and getting a deeper clean in clothing. This is an excellent way to refresh quality work shirts.”