Paint It Black: Getting Dressed When Depressed

(photos by Daniel Auger)

Maybe  you’re bummed out and in the middle of S.A.D. (seasonal affectation disorder) and are waiting for spring and all the pheromones and one night stands that go with it. Maybe that Sarah McLachlan Humane Society commercial is the soundtrack for your emotional state on the regs. Maybe you’re depressed because you don’t have any money or you’re simply too depressed to make any money. Regardless of whether you are heavily medicated and can recite every line of Elizabeth Wurtzel’s Prozac Nation while giving an Oscar-worthy performance of EVERYTHING IS FINE!!!!, or consistently faxing the frownie-face emoticon, this post is for you.

If you wish the people at the coffee shop would just shut up, stop smiling, and pour the damned coffee without asking such trauma inducing questions like, “How are you!” or, “Hello!” you might be suffering from depression. Your wardrobe will probably reflect this, and range from such colors as Wednesday Addams black, I’m-Not-Goth-but-I’m-Also-Not-Terribly-Enthusiastic Kohl, to various shades of alienated and angst-ridden charcoal.  Or maybe you just live in New York.

At some point people will suggest adding more color to your wardrobe. “I LOVE YOU IN COLOR!!!” They will proclaim, which is another way of saying, “Please stop talking about your ex.” While I’m not against wearing color, even bright, insane colors, I must warn against attempting to do so while in a period of severe depression. It does not work.  BEHOLD:

I need more vitamins to pull this off.

I need more vitamins and serotonin in my life before I can pull off this insane window into the Miami nightlife.  I have worn this dress before, when in a better state, and I can pull it off (with the help of lots of gold jewelry, margaritas and lipstick). But when you’re in a depressed state, wearing bright colors feels like being forced to show up at a festive, loud house party that you promised to attend a month ago when  you were in a better mood and believed in humanity.

So let’s get to it. How to dress when depressed:

First of all, only the chemically balanced and well-paid have good posture so I suggest throwing on a giant fur shoulder shrug. Alternately, this will keep you warm when your personality has turned deathly cold.

Maxi dresses are important because, let’s face it; you’re too bummed out to shave your walking-sticks. Get creative with accessories to look like you actually give a shit. For example, in the above photo? Those are belts, that I’ve decided to wear as necklaces. (Depression and Bi-polar disorder alters one’s view of reality. Next time you reach for your meds, imagine Tim Gunn saying, “Make it work.”)

Ok, just because you’re glaring at strangers, and dying a little on the inside, doesn’t mean you can’t look like you used to  have a little fun! Above I am wearing a one-sleeved, shoulder-padded, asymmetrical ROMPER. Rompers, like the things your therapist says, are ridiculous. Like the things you say when you are in the grips of mania, they are also fun. I like to balance this out with black sheer stockings, a grimace, and high heels. Adjust the accessories to your tastes, like adjusting your meds.

Because keeping up with the weather and what to wear under its dictate is something people who smile with rainbows in their hearts do, you’re going to have to button up with something. I like to throw on a black PVC or black vinyl blazer. It’s shiny and sleek when your temperament is dull and browsing

Speaking of apathy, lets talk about your hair for a second.  The messy, disheveled look is back IN, which is great because the amino acids needed to wash, lather, and rinse is leasing the blood-stream of someone who isn’t you.

Style tip! Start the day wearing your hair in a bun that is tight, and severe, like your mood swings. As the day progresses, you can suddenly, and erratically, take it crashing down, just like your enthusiasm! This may also make you look like a crazed nymphomaniac, which is the frequent companion to manic depression. See below:

As for those of you who dye your hair in attempt to inch closer to the person that you are not, this year’s hottest trend is on your side. Too bummed out to touch up your roots? Can’t afford the trip to the salon? Is your hair-color starting to look like it belongs to three different people? GREAT! They call this ombre:

Lip-syncher and embarrassment to singer-songwriters everywhere, Ashlee Simpson, says its OK to have ombre hair (amongst other things).

One of the reasons you’re probably so stressed out is because you hate your job. But just because your soul is being crushed and snorted up by executives in a suite at a casino, doesn’t mean you can’t go out after work and add alcoholism to your list of problems like everyone else.

That is a black, long-sleeved mini-dress that has a really low cut neck-line. Because I’m not on that Real Housewives show, I don’t walk around with my cleavage out like a 24 hour microwaved buffet. So why not just throw the damn dress on over the button-down shirt you wore while earning your measly salary, then go out with your equally miserable co-workers and blow half your check at a bar. The attempt you make at bonding with your fellow species will seem whimsical and fun under the temporary spell of alcohol.

But don’t worry, you can give people the cold shoulder in the break room tomorrow, wearing this:

“Who’s funeral?” some d-bag will undoubtedly say.

Pull the veil down on your hat, turn, and reply, “Yours.”

Now get out there and paint the town black.


Ben McCoy

About xoxobenmccoy

I may not remember your name but I will remember exactly what i was wearing on that day you failed to leave an impression.


  1. This is what I needed. I mean, “only the chemically balanced and well-paid have good posture”! I’ve been thinking that my whole life, waiting for someone to validate me. You’re my hero!

  2. I am feeling some serious doldrums these last few weeks and maybe I can take off the beer-stained egg beater (white undershirt tank top situation) now and at least make an effort. Thank you, ben Mccoy…for now I know how to look fucking put together to cut a batch of cookies (my youthful euphemism for bitch) when I am feeling cross. Gonna go polish some shoes and get a suit drycleaned. Motherhumpers won’t know what him ’em.

  3. xoxobenmccoy

    People say ‘wear your love like heaven,’ as though they’ve never considered it’s not always an option. So, I counter, wear your moods like Hell. Hell has always been more attractive and charming, anyway.

  4. Pingback: This, my friends, is genius. | Home Is Where You Live

  5. Nicely nebulous. Great post.

  6. tracy minicucci

    My favorite so far! I did really enjoy the Frederick’s of Hollywood one as well. Please don’t stop!

  7. Miles-Gregory C

    Lol’s for the fashion depressed – well played.

  8. Ohhhh this post spoke to my inner goth and became my favorite thing ever just now. Thanks.

  9. Kat

    Stop being so goddamn hot.

  10. tess jr

    you had me (yet again w/in 1 article) at ombre hair

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