What Do You Wear When You’re Sad?
An unidentified young woman, dressed in a yellow leotard and matching tights, exercises in her wood-panelled room, to the music from a record player on the floor, 1980s. (Photo by Susan Wood/Getty Images)

Everything feels more familiar from the inside of my favorite hooded sweatshirt. It’s heather gray and comprised of a thick, not entirely soft poly/cotton blend that makes me feel safe. The shape is satisfyingly stocky. The hood stands bulkily at the nape of my neck and the front features a healthy-sized kangaroo pocket that’s held everything from cold medicine to a handful of Cheddar Goldfish. The giant red letters, which are stitched across the front in such a way that my chest is mercilessly scratched if I wear it sans T-shirt, read: MCGILL.

A complete list of things I know about McGill:

1. It’s a university in Montreal, Canada.

2. My college roommate Kelsey’s childhood best friend Becca attended it.

Sometime in 2009, Kelsey lent me the sweatshirt and we dubbed it the Healer Of Bad Feelings. We continued to pass it back and forth until we graduated, at which point it became a permanent fixture in my closet and on my body during times of rapid change.

It sits, revered, with other soothing pieces:

My favorite baggy, wool sweater paired with my best cropped wide-leg pants for when a busy day looms and my self-esteem is dragging.

An old pair of black drop-crotch sweatpants, a loose white T-shirt with holes in it and thick, gray socks when a hard day has worn me out and I need to feel like everything’s going to be okay.

An oversized red cotton tee worn over my favorite slouchy jeans and high-top Converse when I’m anxious and not feeling like myself.

We often talk about using our clothing to express our emotions, but sometimes the clothing itself is the emotional linchpin around which we build our mood. What if the items in our closets that brought us the most comfort were the most honest indicators of our personal style? Soft and baggy — the common element among mine — doesn’t feel so off to me, actually.

What do you wear when you’re sad or lonely or anxious or tired? Something old and familiar or new and novel? Crazy colors? All black? Do you dress to reflect your mood or deflect it?

Photo via Getty Images.

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  • wulangderrida

    fanciest heels to lift up my mood, if they fail then at least im 5″ above the ground.

  • Clairebear

    I wear my black tee shirt dress, leggings, and the biggest hooded sweater I have in either black or brown. I need something comfortable that I can hide in.

  • Abby

    Black leggings I bought at American Apparel in college (an appallingly long time ago), black tank top, old Urban Outfitters t-shirt with extra large arm holes and the sleeves cut off, thick wool socks. It’s my ultimate comfort outfit and for some reason I feel very sexy in it?

    • Haley Nahman

      sounds kewl

  • 3rd fact about mcgill: has produced two former MR interns!

    shoutouts to Canada! Miss u ~

    • Haley Nahman

      oh yeah!!

  • Elizabeth Tamkin

    I like to wear my bed when I’m sad.

    I guess when I’m really sad I actually put the most thought into my outfit — perhaps as a distraction from my feelings, or perhaps to make me feel like something about myself is still there.

  • Erin Khandjian

    I usually wear something with long sleeves when I’m sad… I think the extra coverage reminds me of my duvet

    • Haley Nahman

      yes yes

  • tmm16

    Sweaters. When I’m sad, it’s a always a sweater. Or hoodie. Or sometimes, all black; leather jacket, black jeans, black shirt, just black boots, but that’s more so when I’m feeling moody/sassy, so I usually wear that 2-3 times a week.

  • Grace B

    Eat something sweet, cry, journal, cry some more, be aloooooooooooooone for at least two hours.

    • Haley Nahman


  • The other day I was extremely off about something but the next morning after the ‘sad day’ when I wanted to continue to stay sad, I wore a good outfit. It’s amazing how that was the only thing that lead me through the day.

  • Harling Ross

    Chocolate stains

  • Leandra Medine

    I get SO DRESSED UP when I’m sad. Lately the main culprit of my sadness is a lack of pregnancy so I put on full looks as a sort of reconciliation prize: I don’t have a busting-ass bump even though I so, so want one, but at least I still fit into [insert ridiculous garment here]

    • Hellbetty666

      I prefer to dress up to combat sadness too. Even if it’s just wearing my favourite kaftan instead of trackie bottoms, feeling a bit glamorous definitely helps scare off the black dog.

      Sorry about your lack of pregnancy.

  • jess

    I feel like there are different kinds of sad. Sad-sad, like when you miss someone, is a call for a big, soft chunky knit jumper. Being sad about a rejection, work or personal, calls for gold lamé jumpsuits and leather skirts.

  • Julie Meowmeows

    I wear my vintage unicorn earrings, they protect me with their 80s magic: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/05de7ba566dfdbf43937b8eb077132b7c1b1b1fcb4c71e10d489f7aaec5721f5.jpg

    • Haley Nahman

      these do seem magical

  • impercipient


    • Haley Nahman


  • I wear comfy, baggy, but dark clothes. I don’t really put much thought into my OOTD, but I think it helps me feel more relaxed.

    Genevieve | http://www.blueaugustine.com

  • Andrea M

    This is not really “wearing”, but I get a blow-out. Nothing makes me feel better as instantly as pretty, shiny hair does. Also, blazers and a ton of rings, they make me feel safe. Red lipstick.

    • Hellbetty666

      Ooh yes lipstick definitely helps – I have a lovely burnt orange that my husband says “doesn’t suit” me but I don’t care because it makes me feel fabulous. Its man-repeller properties are a bonus 😉

  • Meg S

    I look my best when I feel my worst. If I feel like shit on the inside, I’m going to look like THE SHIT on the outside.

  • Belle

    Definitely Pjs… on the couch, with a glass of wine and a duvet!


  • Mariana

    I have 2 stages. First I’m at my worst: pajamas all day, Netflix for numbing reasons, eat too much or don’t eat at all. When the first stage is taking to damn long and I have, you know, to work and leave the house, I put my make up on (which on the daily basis I don’t use) and some confident clothes, such as my synthetic leather peplum jacket that makes me feel cool and put together at the same time.

  • Lucinda

    I like to paint my toes bright, pepto bismol pink when I’m sad. If I look down and see how ridiculous they look it makes me feel a little better. I’m usually in my 10 year old, wide legged, Express velour sweats during that time too, they’re comfy.

  • BlackTurtleneck

    When I’m sad I wear a cropped black wool turtleneck- my mom says it makes me look like a 50s housewife, but it makes me feel like everything is going to be okay again. I’ve worn it on all my hardest days, it wraps around me like a hug and makes me feel my most confident!

  • Carlyan Castellano

    For sad or hard days my go to during the winter months is a comfortable solid colored cotton t shirt,my favorite pair of Banana Republic blue jeans, and my camel colored asos coat with a fur collar. I keep my outfit relatively simple and REALLY focus on my makeup. Incorporating a bold beautiful lip and a bitchin’ highlight.

    Summer – I want the least amount of clothing possible, so I usually throw on a familiar dress, no makeup, and no shoes if the opportunity presents itself. Step two is to soak up as much sun as possible. It’s the best mood booster imaginable.

  • Hellbetty666

    HOW COULD I FORGET? In my defence, it hasn’t been very sunny when I’ve been outside this week, but my big, plastic, tacky, silly sunglasses are actually rejuvenating me. You might say I’m a firm believer in the power of positive plastic.

    Miranda knows what’s up:

  • Laurel

    My favorite old swarthmore college sweatshirt, cashmere joggers and smartwool socks! College sweatshirts ftw

  • Yawynne

    A very old and weathered Ed Sheeran hoodie. I spent $150 on it at his concert 4 years ago. It can always makes me feel better because I remember I felt I NEEDED it at the time as Harry Styles owned the same one. Oh what funny times

  • Lucía Luengo

    Well, I love to wear one blue dress that looks like it could have been in west side story. It’s sooooo femenine and I feel so good when I wear it that I feel much better and I end the day like the happiest girl in the world

  • Paola

    this will make me reconsider “sad” outfits and I’ll start labelling items in my wardrobe as anxiety, melancholy or just “teleport me the hell out of here”

  • Senka

    At home, a robe. The thicker and fluffier the better. Or if it’s not acceptable ie someone might drop by and see me in my misery, gray asos track pants that have definitelly seen better days and a gray oversized sweatshirt.
    if I go out It’s mixed. I try to dress up, think of an outfit etc, and wear red lipstick, but sometimes my inability to feel the “look” I am wearing, wears me down.

  • Alli

    Chacos are my you-can’t-tell-me-nothin accessory. Always. And/or fuzzy socks, either with my chacos if I’m in a self-indulgent sweats kinda mood or hidden under boots if I wanna feel delightfully sneaky and also ready to take on the world! I have this bright fuschia dress that looks like a ~look~ but cost $10 and is the comfiest material ever, however it’s backless and I have massive boobs so I wear it over a fitted white T and an old sports bra and make it EVEN COMFIER! Dresses have become the outfit that gets me from “stuck” to “unstuck” recently because feeling fancy is a great mood-booster, they can be a throw-on-and-go or a statement or both at once, and also you don’t have to wear pants! Anything thrifted somehow makes me feel spunky and independent yet engaged in the world. Also, wearing my natural curly hair down in its full glory makes me feel more like my best and fullest self, 10 times out of 10.