Psychology Of Fashion. How Clothing Says A Lot About Us

woman holding shopping bags

Don’t follow the trends. Don’t let fashion possess you, be the one to decide who you are, what you want to express in the way you dress and the way you live – (Gianni Versace)

It’s morning. We open the closet and we grab the dress that we’re wearing today. A normal gesture. Granted. But far from insignificant.. .with that gesture we have just confessed to ourselves and others who we are or who we would like to be!

Is that weird to you? The psychology of fashion was born precisely for this, to explain how the relationship with fashion is closely linked to our personality.

The function of clothing

If we always dress in the same way it would probably mean that we have nothing to say while instead the desire to cover and adorn the body is documented in all cultures, from the most primitive ones.

Through the way we dress we transmit more or less unconsciously to others a huge set of data: age, sex, racial and cultural belonging, our social role (we think of uniforms), membership in social groups or ideological sides, our economic and social position, the type of event we participate in (formal, informal, joyful or sad), the type of behavior we want to keep (open or reserved). These data that we transmit induce in others a series of behaviors, mostly of a cultural nature.

Let’s imagine seeing a man in elegant clothes make an infraction, and a dirty and scruffy man, make the same infraction. Probably we will tend to react more politely with the first and more aggressive with the second.

In the closet is enclosed our identity

Photo by Visual Stories || Micheile on Unsplash

The clothes in our closet say a lot about us. When we buy a dress we do it to communicate our identity, or maybe to emphasize a change in a particular phase of our life. The choices we make are a way to express our state of mind, our feelings, our personality but also to hide it and simulate a different one, in case the real one did not satisfy us fully.

An example? Think of a very shy person who decides to wear aggressive clothing, punk style. In this case the dress will assume the function of an armor, with the aim of protecting and defending us from the outside and from the judgments of those around us.

Every item of clothing and every accessory are a clue: the fabric, the pattern, the color, but also the height of the heel, the size of a hat…

The history of fashion: a new discipline

The history of fashion studies the origin, causes and evolution of clothing over the centuries.

The way of dressing becomes a symbol of historical epochs, of social changes, of the birth of new classes and of protest movements.

Once upon a time, the way of dressing, the accuracy of clothing, remarked the difference in class and the distance between rich and poor. Today, with the industrialization and the production of clothes in series there is a greater uniformity, both social and cultural, but the need to differentiate and use the dress as a form of non-verbal communication remains alive.

A recent research on men of power has highlighted how these tend to choose and maintain with constancy a look that becomes their characteristic, that distinguishes them, a kind of uniform that shows their identity and consistency with their self.

The choice of clothing to communicate with others

The choice of what we wear allows us to communicate to others something of ourselves even without talking and allows us to manipulate our image to bring it closer to our ideal. It’s a means of filling a gap, compensating for our fears, and making it easier for us to integrate into a group.

Do you want some practical examples? Here are some:

– we choose an excessive look, which mixes different colors and styles: it can be a sign of insecurity, of a willingness to hide a sad side of us that we do not want to make known

– we choose a simple and comfortable look: it can be a sign of reliability and authenticity of character

– we love to keep old clothes: it is a way to remain linked to the past, especially to periods that we remember as positive and happy

– we love new materials and natural fibers: we are modern and independent people

– we use clothes that hide us: we want to hide our weaknesses and our defects, real or presumed, in the eyes (and judgments) of others we dress in a neglected way: we have little esteem of ourselves.

The choice of colors

Photo by Dom Hill on Unsplash

The origin of the meaning of colors goes back to day and night: blue is the night sky, of quiet and passivity, yellow is the light of day, of hope and activity. If the red symbolizes the attack and the conquest, its complementary, the green, represents the defense.

Behind the choice of a color to wear there are not only the influences exerted by the fashion of the moment but also the traits of our personality. And even the moods of the moment can influence the preference for a certain color or the rejection for another, not to mention that one color can represent different emotions and moods.

We think of red, it is the color of love, fire, blood, it communicates vitality, power, energy, intense feelings and warmth. But it also has a negative meaning, it is also the color of the devil and the diabolic, of anger and aggression.

The choice of strong colors such as red, yellow, orange or white indicate a strong personality and great esteem in themselves.

Green, brown and blue are preferred by private people, who do not like to appear.

The choice of purple indicates a sensitive soul while black communicates a wide variety of messages: elegance but also confidentiality and, being worn by many on many occasions, can also express a certain degree of conformity.

 A dress as therapy and to stop the time that passes

Dedicating time and attention to self-care can be an excellent therapy to improve mood and increase self-esteem. When the mirror gives us a pleasant image of ourselves, even relating to others becomes simpler and more pleasant. Especially if the clothes are not used to hide something of us but to highlight what are the strengths that we all have.

And not only that, the clothes are able to slow down the race of time. Today more than ever the age of birth tends to no longer correspond to the real one. We feel, and above all we want to appear, always young. Therefore, we can choose trendy and casual looks at all ages, bright colors and accessories always fashionable, to please ourselves and to please others!

This article was originally published on The Self Improvement Blog.