I know that when I was young, one of the first things my mother taught me was: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”. She wanted to instill in us that what is on the inside of a person matters much more than what is on the outside. Get to know a person before writing them off. This idea is great for the mind of a child who is learning how to interact with others. Who is fearless to play with others without worrying about what they look like or what they are wearing. However, as children mature into older children and reach adulthood. They find out just how much the cover of a book matters.
As the old saying says, “Put your best foot forward!”, meaning that we should consider how we present ourselves to others, how we should look clean and well put together for our presentation to those around, because by looking better, you feel better, and when you feel better, you do better. Where does this idea come from?
Clothing Can Change the Way We Feel
Clothing can tell a lot about a person. It can tell you what kind of climate they live in, what kind of job they have, how much money they have to spend, and can even tell how important comfort is to them. Clothing can change the way we feel about ourselves as well. At the most basic level, clothing can keep us warm on those cold winter nights, wrapped up in our favorite sweater and leggings.
At the same time, clothing helps one to keep cool on hot summer days with every kind of quick-dry fabric that man can imagine. However, there is an emerging group in the field of psychology that believe clothing can help change how people feel on the inside as well. The area of fashion psychology is gradually growing in the field of mental health. What is Fashion Psychology, and how does it work?
The definition of fashion is a popular trend or manner of doing something, especially in dress or in behavior. The definition of psychology is the scientific study of the human mind and its functions. Especially those affecting behaviors in a given context. Essentially, fashion psychology is a look at the many ways what people wear affects how they feel. Not only can fashion effect how a person feels about themselves, but that extends to how others view them as well.
Mind What You Wear
In her book: Mind What You Wear: The Psychology of Fashion – Professor Karen J. Pine tells the story of a young woman Meg who buys a hat that is rather unique. Although Meg is unsure about buying the attention-grabbing accessory at first. After a stranger compliments her in it, she decides to buy it. Professor Pine goes on to explain that it was the hat that caught the attention of Meg’s would be husband. Professor Pine certainly is not suggesting that a hat or any garment will magically give you everything you want. But she emphasizes that the hat or any garment can begin to shift something inside of you when you wear it. “As people complimented her, either explicitly or through their covert reactions to her, Meg will have been more likely to sparkle, more likely to smile.” she writes.
This idea of fashion inertia could be seen as rather helpful. Imagine the kind of confidence more people could have in themselves. If they believed that how they present themselves relies less on what they are actually wearing, and more so on how they carry themselves in it. Yes, wearing a crazy hat or a bright blazer can turn heads in one’s direction. But that isn’t necessarily something to be taken negative, it presents the chance for new perceptions and interactions.
Nature of People
Pine writes about somewhat of a psychological fashion inertia in which the action of choosing a particular article of clothing causes a reaction internally, whether it be for good or for bad. “What we wear affects how we feel so much that it can distort our thoughts and judgments,” Pine says. One example she gives is that women are twice as likely to wear jeans when they are depressed than when they wear jeans. As well as some other whackier facts about Superman shirts and taking math tests in bathing suits. The study of Fashion Psychology also plays into how people view one another. It is natural for people to feel more comfortable with those who dress similar to them. And be somewhat distanced from those who may be dressed different or dated as Pine’s studies found.
Dawnn Karen is the founder of the Fashion Psychology Institute. An online school where one can obtain their certification in fashion psychology through a series of webinar courses. Karen herself holds a masters in counseling as well as education. She states that her mission is “styling from the inside out and by bridging the gap between perception and reality.”. Although the service of a fashion psychologist is meant to help, and not to diagnose a condition.
The Future Of Fashion Psychology
There is still a lot to be learned about Fashion Psychology. As it is still an emerging avenue in the psychological community. However, there have been many studies on how colors, smells, and the other senses cause for a change in a person’s mood, feeling or attitude. Could it be that fashion is just another way to trigger change by accessing the senses of sight and touch? The power of dress may very well be able to cause a reaction.