Could what we choose to wear can reveal more about us than we would ever expect? Some would argue that you could describe clothing as a language we use to express ourselves to others. Each piece of clothing is a word and we put these words together to form a sentence that gives information about who we are. The more ‘words’ we have, the more ‘sentences’ we can make and therefore more precise is the information we reveal.
Have you ever judged someone by their looks? According to studies in the 70s, 75% of students as young as seven, believe that clothing communicates something about the wearer. By the age of fourteen, we believe others form an impression of us on the basis of our dress. There are many stereotypes and judgments that we are prone to making, within seconds of meeting someone, be they right or wrong. For example, many of us instantly perceive people who wear glasses, to have a higher IQ than those who don’t. It is often assumed that a person dressed conservatively is sensible, self-controlled and reliable; a person dressed more daringly is perceived to be more of an extrovert.
The colour of our clothing reportedly has a significant impact on our mood. Every colour has a different effect and we can use this to our advantage. A study conducted in 1993 found that colours such as black and red have a positive impact on our employability. Moreover, women interviewing for jobs that require warm characteristics, such as that of a teacher, were more successful when wearing red, pink and pastel colours that suggested the person wearing the colour was also warm. In 2004, researchers followed contestants in combat sports in the Olympics. Contestants were randomly assigned to either red or blue uniforms. Results show that red wearers were significantly more likely to win over blue. This could be down to the fact that we sometimes associate red with high levels of testosterone and dominance, which can make the wearer feel more powerful and at the same time, make the opposition feel inferior. These studies clearly indicate how colour can affect our perceptions of others and ourselves.
Tracy DiNunzio, founder of fashion re-sale site ‘Tradesy,’ explains how people’s wardrobes can reveal what they are like as a person. Take a look at your wardrobe, how would you describe it? If you have a lot of logos you may be trying to hide your real self, covering yourself in symbols of other people’s concepts. If you have a lot of old, unworn clothes you are likely to be the type of person that finds it hard to let go of the past. On the other hand, new unworn clothing can symbolise a person who has an ideal image of what they want their future to look like; rather than wearing the clothes now, she is buying clothes for the lifestyle she desires but hasn’t done anything about it. A wardrobe lacking in colour could indicate an introvert who is most comfortable in a close circle of friends and a wardrobe full of identical clothing of similar items in different colours is likely to be scared of change. With these observations, DiNunzio explained that by simply changing the way you dress, you could help yourself become the person you want to be, as you will give off the impression implied by the clothing, “When I dressed for the job and the life that I wanted, it kind of helped me get there.”
The idea that what you wear affects your mentality is called, ‘enclothed cognition.’ A study of participants wearing white lab coats found that the participants performed better in tests when they believed that they were wearing a doctor’s coat than when they were told they were wearing an artist’s coat. These results suggest that we take on the perceived characteristics of the clothing that we wear, so much so, that it influences the way we think and behave. In fashion, this is seen when designers create a persona for their collections and women aspire to wear the brand to take on the characteristics of the muse. If you associate Prada’s collection with an intelligent, powerful woman, you are more likely to act that way, when you wear the clothing yourself.
Author: New Look