by: Mariana Bockarova

In 2014, a study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology made waves about the efficacy of “retail therapy”. The University of Michigan researchers conducted three experiments to see whether shopping made any significant difference on someone’s mood. Surprisingly, not only was retail therapy found to be effective at boosting moods, but it was found that engaging in shopping and carrying through with actually purchasing items was a staggering 40 times more effective in giving people a sense of control in their lives than those who simply browsed, and those who purchased products were three times less sad. The researchers concluded: “Retail therapy – shopping that is motivated by distress – is often said to be ineffective, wasteful and a dark side of consumer behavior, but we propose that retail therapy has been viewed too negatively, and that shopping may be an effective way to minimize sadness”.

But why would shopping produce such an effect? A study conducted by TNS Global on behalf of Ebates.com found that purchasing new products helps us ease into life transitions, acting as a mental source of preparation for a change in our lives. Researchers list getting married and having a baby – arguably the two most stressful events in our lives – as surrounded by shopping and purchasing activities. Another potential reason shopping might be effective in alleviating our distress is because it boosts creativity: As clothing allows us to express who we are, purchasing new items allows us to reaffirm our identities, safely step out of our comfort zones and seek out beauty and design we might not normally engage in. While retail therapy is scientifically effective yet financially taxing,  Nalinie D. Budhu, the Creative Director of Styled By Nalinie, recommends a thriftier approach: 30 Days of Style.

“Embarking on a 30 day style challenge would be beneficial to women because it would push them outside their comfort zone and challenge them to see clothes differently. One of the things I teach my clients is how to take one item and wear it multiple ways. It’s a great teaching tool to show you that you don’t have to have a closet full of clothes, just the right ones. Mixing and matching creates longevity and wear-ability of clothing…taking office wear from day right into dinner at night!”

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IF YOU PLAN ON EMBARKING ON THE 30 DAY STYLE CHALLENGE, HERE ARE A FEW OF NALINIE’S TIPS:

IF YOU HAVE A CLOSET FULL OF NEUTRALS, ENERGIZE WITH BOLD HUED SHOES AND BAGS YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE AFRAID OF COLOUR!

SCARVES ARE A GREAT ACCESSORY; ALWAYS STASH ONE IN YOUR BAG….WHAT A FANTASTIC WAY TO DRESS UP A PAIR OF JEANS AND TEE.

DON‘T SKIMP OUT ON YOUR UNDERGARMENTS! GO TO A SPECIALTY SHOP AND GET FITTED, IT WILL BE THE BEST THING YOU DO FOR YOURSELF AND THAT SHEATH DRESS YOU PLAN ON WEARING!

OWN SOMETHING IN LEOPARD. IT’S RACY, ALWAYS GORGEOUS AND A GREAT STAPLE. IT’S A GREAT WAY TO ADD THE WOW FACTOR WITHOUT IT BEING TOO OVER THE TOP.

EMBRACE THE SHAPE OF YOUR BODY, ONCE YOU KNOW THE RIGHT SILHOUETTE THAT SUITS YOUR BODY YOU WILL BE ABLE TO FILTER OUT ALL THE ILL FITTING ITEMS AND SHOPPING WILL BE DONE WITH EASE!

INVEST IN A QUALITY OUTER WEAR. IT MAKES AN INCREDIBLE STATEMENT. LOOK AT DETAILS, SUCH AS SEAMS THAT WILL CREATE THAT SHAPE. FIT IS EVERYTHING! [/box]

While fashion is “what’s in the shops right now…runway trends, pictures in magazines,” Nalinie suggests crafting a style instead of purchasing continuously changing items as more effective in the long run, as it helps affirm and solidify our identities: “For me, I’ve always been fascinated with fabrics, textures, patterns and how it all works together. For as long as I can remember everything fashion I was obsessed with…Like clockwork, every week I watched Fashion Television to see upcoming trends for the season, what designer was creating the next big thing. It is just a part of who I am and always will be. It was only logical for me to want to be part of this ever growing industry and to pass on the knowledge to clients, so I became a stylist. Over the years, I’ve found style is something that has been modified and customized on an individual level to suit each person’s own personality and body. Clients come to me because it’s more about education and letting the client realize who they truly are.”

For the month of September, I decided to take on the 30 Day Style Challenge, with the promise to renew myself: September 1st, I woke up with excitement. I had a new zest for life, which I never assumed I would find through the prospect of altering my clothing. Inside the trenches of my closet, I dug and dug finding pieces I hadn’t worn in years. I pulled clothes I don’t recall ever having seen, let alone purchased, and immediately started matching them to my existing set in rotation; pairing a paisley top with jeans, a trench coat over tights, and never again will I underestimate the importance of a staple necklace. Within the first week, I received compliments from co-workers. By the third, variations of “I love how you put that together” and “can you teach me your style?” were phrases I heard regularly. I was on cloud nine. Then came day 22. I had been out shopping and spotted a particularly nice animal print shirt worn by one of the salesgirls. Without flinching, I bought it and threw it on. Instead of feeling stylish, I felt shabby and didn’t know why.  Nalinie, however, was spot on: “Most often women are too busy looking at the number instead of the shape and fit. Every designer cuts differently, so instead of looking at the size, focus on the fit and shape the garment gives you. Once you’re able to let go it will open up an whole new way of thinking.” Though the shirt in question was in my size, it was completely wrong for my body shape. An ‘aha!’ moment ensued.

Ironically, this was exactly the sort of outfit I would have worn prior to the challenge without thinking twice. Now that I had started dressing with intention and being mindful about what I wore, I found that not only did I feel my confidence improve, but my mood did as well. I’m happy to say that the poorly fit shirt is now long gone – and my shabby style with it!