A case for choosing your outfit the night before

I have my nighttime routine down to a fine art: make dinner and stockpile enough for tomorrow's lunch; shower; moisturise plus self-care; clean up; and sit blankly on-front of my wardrobe(s) and wait for the sartorial penny to drop. Mood depending, it might take five minutes or twenty-five minutes to mentally (and physically) wrestle through shirts, smocks, trousers, knitwear, skirts and dresses; and that's before I even dare think about shoes and accessories. You can guarantee that every night, 30-minutes before going to bed, I'm paring earrings with shoes and tops with trousers in search of the perfect outfit for work. I sometimes come downstairs in my full rig-out (the test-drive), only to see the perplexed look on my boyfriends face when just five minutes ago I was in mismatched pyjamas.

My clothes are my armour; my shield against the ups-and-downs that come with everyday challenges. The clothes I wear to work need to reflect my mood or, in some cases, enhance it. Research even suggests that if we wear an outfit that makes us feel like a superhero, we can actually achieve more because we believe we can. And that's exactly how I feel when I wear my favourite jeans and blazer or go all-out with a hat a (faux) fur coat.

LISTEN: Our relationships with our wardrobes on Smart Casual / Episode 1

Further research has now confirmed that clothing is actually priming the brain to function and operate differently. In one study Barbara Fredrickson (social psychologist) found that women who were given a maths test performed worse when wearing a swimsuit than in a jumper, although men’s scores were unaffected by their clothing. The researchers attributed the women’s poorer maths performance in a swimsuit to the fact that self-objectification consumes mental resources. And similarly applies to me: crappy jumper and tracksuit = crappy work and unmotivated.

If you're ready to start tomorrow off on the right foot, step this way.

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Downsize

Fashion Editor and wardrobe wellness advocate Annemarie O'Connor says "The human brain can only focus on a maximum of seven things at any one time" in reference to overly-packed shelves and bulging wardrobe doors. So if you find your brain hitting the big red overheat button when looking into your wardrobe, it could be a sign that you need to downsize. Asking friends and family to help off-load the clutter or hosting an at-home swap-shop are two ways to help minimise the amount of 'stuff' you own.

If you need a more practical approach though, Marie Kondo's best-selling title The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is worth considering (it has sold more than four million copies worldwide, and been translated into 35 languages). Kondo's philosophy of wardrobe cleansing considers and respects every piece of clothing as though it were a life-long friend. It also teaches you to banish clothes connected to distasteful memories – an ex-lover, for example – and cast them to the deep helms of the charity bag. The KonMari approach also encourages you to assess every single item you own to determine whether or not it "sparks joy". But if you find yourself holding onto a pair of PVC kick-flair trousers just because they hold special memories of flaking with friends on the Trinity lawn twenty years ago, it might be time to say goodbye.

Future-proof early morning panic 

Doing something as simple as laying clothes out the night before avoids last-minute, early morning panic. It's easy to feel extra exhausted come Monday morning (especially after a bout of 'Sunday Scaries'), so 'tomorrow you' will thank 'present you' for being two steps ahead and avoid wearing two odd shoes. Think of it as investing in self-care in a cost-effective way (it costs nothing to be a tiny bit more organised).

Pictured: You, not panicking tomorrow morning

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Check the weather

The chalk-like taste of my two-a-day Calci-chew high-dose vitamin C tablets are a reminder of Ireland's geographical misfortune. The practical dresser considers cautious layering: multiple light layers that can be discarded throughout the day when it inevitably gets too hot/wet/cold. Slip-dresses over skinny jeans are an exciting way to add drama to an otherwise pair of ordinary jeans; gilets offer protection against the elements and are a great layered alternative to a heavy coat; and there's a lot to be said for a simple T-shirt, shirt and sweater combination. Right now, I'm using Accuweather – a superior weather app that offers real-time, almost to-the-minute weather predictions with high levels of accuracy – to asses how many layers are needed to brave tomorrow's elements.

Get a full-size mirror

It might seem overly simple, but a quick glance in a full-size mirror before leaving could relieve you the embarrassment of skirts tucked into tights, tissue under shoes and scary hair surprises. Don't forget to give yourself a deserved wink before leaving too, you look great, dahling. See you in work!

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