6:55 pm

Why We Wear What We Wear

Putting on my reflective Carrie Bradshaw "couldn't help but wonder" hat, which happens to be red and made from the same fabric they make towels with, to try and unpack the psychology behind our clothing choices. I am by no means a psychologist. Just a curious kid who adores staring at people and piecing together what their lives might be about based on their shoe choice. But I will try my best, as it's one of the main reasons why I love the subject of fashion so much.

This whole article can be broken up into three main fragments or points of discussion for me.
Firstly the the effect of our clothing on other people's perceptions of us, secondly the effect of our clothing on our own self- perceptions and lastly, how to kinda use this knowledge to our advantage. I'm pretty sure I've said this a million times, but clothes are waaaay more than just clothes. Leandra Medine puts it quite clearly when she says that fashion is just another language and tool of communication for her. Fashion folk are pretty familiar with the overused quotation, "style is a way of saying who you are without having to speak", but that's the thing with cliches, when you strip them of their cringe, annoyingness, they're mostly based on truth.

So cool. You see someone walk down the street. Ogle them from top to toe (or toe to top if you're feeling like Miranda Priestly from D wears P), and bam you can tell what this person's name and surname is, where they went to school, what they do for a living and the first 5 numbers of their I.D!- Not really. But there are a couple of things that you could probably guess about someone based on their clothing choices.

Style Tribe: Wanna find a 'capetowncoolkid'? Look for a fannie pack either strapped across the shoulder or in its traditional hip level position.
Class thing: Trying to guess if she went to private school? Pay attention to her Country Road tote bag paired with olive green parka.
Extremists: Many episodes of "How Do I Look" have demonstrated how the way someone dresses may also be a subconscious reflection of insecurities or defense mechanism unknown to the wearer. Outsiders are sometimes able to recognize this before the actual wearer does.

Outsiders are also shown to treat certain people in different ways as a result of what someone is wearing. An example from my Sociology class is the colonizer in Africa. Africans were declared 'uncivilized' based on their attire and its incompatibility with the conventions of Western dress and thus subjected to oppression and discrimination- completely drawing away from the original pride associated with certain cultural dress codes.

How we dress says something about us, makes people treat us in a certain way.

MOST importantly though, the way we dress serves as a reflection of self and affects how we may feel.

Jemma says it lifts her confidence to dress well for exams
I like to dress well when I'm feeling a bit angry or frustrated at other things I can't control. I do this thing where I look in my closet and kinda base my clothing choices on how I'm gonna 'kill em" today.

Joy of dressing up for some, stems from the ability to accentuate features about themselves that they like, the ability to play lots of characters. My main joy stems from surprising people and myself with clothing concoctions based off of multiple inspirations ranging from magazines, the net or the dude sitting next to me in my maths tut. I love love doing something weird and fun. and challenging myself to rotate items in my closet so that I never have to wear the same outfit twice. Sometimes I just wanna look like a pantsula.

It matches with my daring and easily bored personality. Routine hacks me whereas routine and structure gives some of my friends a sense of peace. This translates outwardly in the way they construct outfits, choosing rather to stick to key, comfortable pieces and neutral colours.

Like, body language, it's cool to be able to recognise outfits' causes and effects. That's when you begin to be able to use them to play to your advantage. Identifying people's responses to attire and identifying your responses to your own attire builds a sense of awareness in self that can only lead to being more comfortable in one's own skin and thus becoming a better dresser.

For me being well-dressed or reaching peak style goals is about self awareness first and trends later. Of course trends are a part of this, but coming to a point where you understand who you are and being completely honest with yourself allows you then to choose which trends you identify with and what's truly you. I hope  one day to reach that destination.

Clothing is ultimately communication y'all, and what better way to get by, than being fluent in the language?
Lucia Ma
Maggie Fok
Damon Clark

Outfit Details:
hat: vintage
sweater: MRP
trousers and boots: Topshop

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