What is the psychology of fashion

Fashion psychology: the language of your clothes

Last update: 13 August, 2020

It is not necessary to be a fashion enthusiast to realize how important the way we dress is in relation to how others see us. Clothing comes from that drawer of elements that we analyze immediately when, for example, someone is introduced to us. This is called the psychology of fashion: The clothes we wear allow us to project the image we would like to show.

Even though it may not be our intention, the way we dress can reveal a lot about us to others. Moreover, what we want to say with our clothing style may not be the same as what other people interpret into our clothing. In this article we talk about these and other aspects of the psychology of fashion.

"The specific traits that make a person attractive depend on what is currently in vogue, be it physical or psychological."

Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving (1956)

Various Scientific studies and psychological research have revealed the true effects of the choice of our clothing on how we perceive and evaluate one another, examined. The various experiments have produced very surprising results.

Fashion is not just a woman's thing

The belief that women are generally more fashion conscious than men is widespread. Nevertheless, various studies show that men are basically more dependent on fashion than most people might think. Contrary to popular belief, Solomon and Schopler (1982) showed that men are often more influenced by feelings about their clothes and the way they are valued.

Likewise, regardless of whether you are a man or a woman, the choice of your clothes can affect your own self-image as well as the impression you have on others,as well as the behavior that others show you impact. Clothing can affect everything from the outcome of a soccer game to the assessment a recruiter makes about your ability to work.

With that in mind, a study found that the Using the color red in sportswear increases the likelihood of winning a game. Another study found that an applicant's clothing significantly influenced the interviewer's perception of potential management skills and the decision to hire applicants for leadership positions: The “masculinity” of the clothes worn was the decisive factor in how the examined abilities were perceived in relation to management qualities. Applicants were perceived to be more energetic and aggressive when they dressed in a more “masculine” way. Applicants also received a better recommendation to be hired if they opted for typically male clothing.

The psychology of fashion: what do your clothes say about you?

The clothes and the way we present ourselves have not always been as varied within a society and have not always had such a strong influence as they are nowadays. The technological advances made over the centuries have also influenced the fashion world.

In the beginning, the main goal of clothing was to keep us warm and dry and to protect us from the sun and dust. Dressing appropriately was a matter of survival. Gradually, however, the clothing was also used to make everyday tasks easier, as you can see from the integration of trouser pockets. As the manufacture of clothing became more and more advanced, the wardrobe lost its importance in terms of survival.

Clothing is no longer just for survival and to make our tasks easier. It is true that it is still an important and practical tool,but it has grown in importance in other areas as well. For example, we can see how certain items of clothing or brands can represent a certain status.

In many societies, clothing also shows taste. George Taylor demonstrated this in the so-called Hemline Index (1926). Taylor noted that Women, when a country is falling into a recession and therefore more cautious consumer behavior is indicated, develop a preference for longer clothes, while in times of prosperity the trend tends to be reversed.

"It's a lot easier to be good when you wear fashionable clothes."

Lucy Montgomery in Anne on Green Gables (1908)

A second major influence on how we dress is the result of millions of years of evolution in our species. As seen in many animals, the concept of mate selection in evolutionary psychology suggests that our behavior is determined by our efforts to find a mate and reproduce.

The ability to choose a particular clothing also offers us the opportunity to differentiate ourselves and increase our attractiveness for the person we would like to have as our partner. Remember that this behavior corresponds to that of a peacock, which shows its magnificent plumage when looking for a partner if it pleases a female.

But in contrast to that we can also use clothing to blend in with a crowd and hide our individuality. We do this when we dress in a uniform or when we choose a more or less homogeneous style in a certain environment.

The cultural influences in the psychology of fashion

Much of the results of this research on the psychology of fashion and the choice of our clothing are subject to the cultural values ​​of society, in which a person lives. The cultural differences are of great importance. In fact, not all cultures perceive the same qualities associated with, for example, a particular color.

It is also important to emphasize that The superficiality in choosing our clothes is seldom the only determining factor that affects the image that we other (and also ourselves) want to show influenced by ourselves. So it is not only the clothes that matter, but also the way in which we wear them and how we combine them.

"Fashion has to do with two things: with evolution and with its opposite."

Karl Lagerfeld

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