Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Katie Piper explains how fashion helped her to recover after being attacked

katie piper fashion mental health.jpg

Katie Piper has opened up about the incredibly important role that fashion and clothing played in her recovery, explaining that it helped her to “create an identity” when her sense of self had been stripped away.

“I have kind of relied on it as a way to reinvent myself, create an identity, that whole fake it until you make it,” she revealed on ITV’s Lorraine.

“For me clothes are a huge part of who I am, the message I put out to the world as to how I want to be treated.”

Read more: Katie Piper confesses that she “relied on alcohol to get me through dark times”

Piper had sulphuric acid thrown into her face in 2008, leaving her partially blind and with horrific burns and lifelong scarring, all of which required more than 300 surgical procedures.

The philanthropist, campaigner, and TV star went on to set up a charitable organisation, the Katie Piper Foundation, to help burns victims and people suffering from disfiguring injuries. And, in 2015, she married Richard Sutton, the father of her three-year-old daughter, Belle.

Now the 33-year-old is launching her own fashion range – and she has spoken at length about how the way she dresses can help to boost her emotional wellbeing.

“I definitely think [that clothes helped me through those darker periods],” said Piper.

“They’ve been a bit of light relief, a way to recognise I still exist underneath after all the trauma.”

Read more: Katie Piper reveals why she prefers to buy genderless toys for her daughter

Piper was attacked by Stefan Sylvestre in 2008. He had been hired by Piper’s ex-boyfriend, Daniel Lynch, who is currently serving two life sentences in prison. Sylvestre, who was also jailed, is serving a minimum 12-year sentence.

A post shared by Katie Piper (@katiepiper_) on

The attack left Piper feeling as if she had lost a huge part of who she was: her eyelids burned away, as did most of her nose and part of an ear.

Surgeons used pioneering technology in a bid to rebuild her face – but this meant that Piper was forced to wear solid plastic pressure mask for months, as the constant pressure helped to improve the texture and shape of her new skin.

“When I was in the mask I couldn’t wear make-up,” she said, “so clothes were important [in helping me to feel myself again].”

Read more: Katie Piper on the importance of making mistakes

Karen Pine, who is the co-author of Flex: Do Something Different and a professor in the School of Psychology at University of Hertfordshire, has said that dressing up in your favourite clothes has been proven to help you to feel better.

“The strong link between clothing and mood state suggests we should put on clothes that we associate with happiness, even when feeling low,” she said.

Pine – who interviewed 100 women about their moods and dressing habits for the study – continued: “We should give more thought to what we wear and even dress for happiness, irrespective of how we are feeling.”

Shauna Mackenzie Heathman, a certified image consultant and owner of Mackenzie Image Consulting in South Carolina, added: “When we are depressed or sad, we’re not focused on how we look. We stop caring.

“We turn to what’s easy and comfortable. Prolonged long enough, you then fall in ‘the rut.’ Often, altering one’s mood by enhancing wardrobe can be done.”

She added: “However, it generally only has short-term results if working on one’s emotional and mental state is not at play as well.”

So true! Worked for me

A post shared by Katie Piper (@katiepiper_) on

Using fashion as a way of boosting mental wellbeing is not a new concept: Mind, the mental health charity, has long cited the positive effects that personal care can have on our day-to-day lives.

“When you're experiencing a mental health problem, it's easy for personal care to not feel like a priority,” it explains. “But small things, like taking a shower and getting fully dressed, whether or not you're going out of the house, can make a big difference to how you feel.”

You can find more of Mind’s self-care tips – including relaxation methods and mood-boosting dietary advice – on their website.

Images: Rex Features



Katie Piper is tired of people writing about her ‘happy ending’


Katie Piper on the healing power of poetry and writing


Katie Piper: “I relied on alcohol to get me through dark times”



“The nervous bride’s guide to the nightmare of wedding dress shopping”

It’s Bridal Boutique Bingo! How many veiled horrors will you check off?

by Amy Swales
25 Jul 2017

Where to buy the most iconic party dresses in film on the high street

Including THAT green dress from Atonement...

by Sejal Kapadia Pocha
19 Jul 2017

Daily outfit inspiration with our look at the best dressed A-listers

Casual dressing ideas from stylish celebrities

19 Jul 2017

25 fashionable and functional bikinis for summer 2017

Invest in one of these stylish pieces to see you through the rest of summer

18 Jul 2017

The latest H&M designer collaboration is here and it's fit for a royal

Kate Middleton, Michelle Obama and Alexa Chung are major fans

by Harriet Hall
13 Jul 2017

Meryl Streep has an insane Barack and Michelle Obama handbag

And you really need to see it

by Kayleigh Dray
13 Jul 2017

H&M just announced a collaboration with this very chic French brand

by Nicola Colyer
07 Jul 2017

Nickelodeon has released a seriously retro fashion range for adults

Because who wouldn't want a Rugrats t-shirt?

by Jasmine Andersson
07 Jul 2017

This week’s Style List: jewels, summer scents and statement towels

All your sunshiny needs sorted

05 Jul 2017

This River Island dress is a summer must-have, according to Instagram

Fashion bloggers are obsessed with this high-street frock

by Kayleigh Dray
05 Jul 2017