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Why is everyone dressing up for everything?

"Dressing up makes me feel so much more confident in myself," said one person.

Taylor Swift fans dressing up (FILES) US singer-songwriter Taylor Swift performs during her Eras Tour at Sofi stadium in Inglewood, California, August 7, 2023.
Taylor Swift's Eras Tour was just one cultural event this summer that led to fans dressing up. (Photo by MICHAEL TRAN/AFP via Getty Images)

This summer was filled with major cultural events that boosted the economy -- and made history. Taylor Swift's Eras tour, the release of "Barbie" and Beyoncé's Renaissance tour all broke records regarding attendance. They also revealed a collective enthusiasm for dressing up in eye-catching, maximalist, on-theme outfits.

The fashion phenomenon has been in stark contrast to the trends that dominated during the pandemic, where comfort and functionality often took precedence over style and originality. But now it seems we're ready to leave the sweats and PJs behind in favour of anything shiny, bright and over-the-top.

“I really believe in 'look good, feel good’ and find that dressing up makes me feel so much more confident in myself,” said Cassey Kalba, a 24-year-old from Los Angeles, Calif. “I 100 per cent feel my best when I take the time to put together a look that represents my personal style.”

This summer, Kalba attended the Renaissance tour clad in a bedazzled denim corset, a matching hat, long diamond earrings and a matching necklace, a rhinestone belt, denim pants and heels. While her day-to-day style typically consists of basic pieces and neutral colours, she said the event—and seeing concertgoers' outfits on social media ahead of the show—inspired her to wear something outside of her everyday wardrobe and comfort zone.

Cassey Kalba says she feels her best
Cassey Kalba says she feels her best "when I take the time to put together a look that represents my personal style." (Courtesy photo)

Dressing up can not only help you feel good — it can foster connections

"It can be nerve-wracking to put yourself out there in clothes you don't normally wear, but being in a community of people who are also stepping out of their comfort zone to wear something fun and one-of-a-kind can give you the extra boost of confidence to do so,” she said.

And dressing up didn't just make her feel good—she said it actually helped her foster connections with other concertgoers who stopped to comment on her outfit and compliment her look.

Chloe H., a 26-year-old beauty content creator from the northerneastern England who asked to keep her last name private, has always loved dressing up, and she said she doesn’t need a reason to do it beyond the desire to feel her absolute best.

Inspired by the "Barbie" movie, Chloe recently wore a hot pink dress and full glam to go shopping. She also dressed up to go to the beach, for a night out, and to meet friends for lunch.

"It makes me feel good about myself,” Chloe said. "I don't dress up for other people’s approval — I dress up for me.”

The negative impact of comfy clothes

The pandemic gave us an excuse to wear comfy clothes all day every day. And while this can certainly be nice for a period of time, after a while, it can make us feel quite "blah," according to Michele Leno, a licensed psychologist based in Detroit, Mich.

"Vegging out is nice and even needed, but something about it zaps our motivation,” Leno said. “When it goes on for too long, it can make us feel anxious and depressed.”

It’s no surprise, then, that so many people are taking every opportunity to dress to the nines post-pandemic, she said. After so many cancelled events and unworn threads, we are all craving a little excitement.

“This is our time to make up for lost time and we are not holding back,” she said. “Sure, we still revert to our sweats and pajamas — but only to take a break while we decide what to wear to the next event.”

As a result of the pandemic, many jobs transitioned to being remote, and Kalba said this has also contributed to her feeling extra motivated to dress up for fun events. With less pressure to dress up every day for work, she said she finds a lot more enjoyment in dressing up for special occasions.

Chloe, too, said it’s been such a joy having the ability, and a reason, to go out and dress up again since lockdown restrictions were lifted.

And it turns out that dressing up in our favourite things actually releases endorphins, Leno said, which explains why so many people have hopped on the out-there outfit train. We receive an influx of feel-good hormones when we look in the mirror and love what we see, and we also get a boost from sharing photos of our creative outfits on social media and receiving praise from friends and family.

“Dressing up says we're invested in our well-being and it makes us feel encouraged,” Leno said. “Feeling uplifted, if only briefly, is therapeutic and great for our mental health."

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