Is It Really True That You Are What You Wear?
Whether you're a monochrome lover or a colourful queen, the clothes you put on your body says a lot about you
From quite an early age I have been fashion conscious, always keen to present the most polished version of myself, I vividly remember going to great lengths to perfectly match my shoes and nail varnish with my turquoise blue dress for my fourth birthday party.
Now I stand before the wardrobe I’ve spent much of my early adulthood meticulously building and curating. It’s colour co-ordinated (mad, I know), and I can’t help but notice that my beautiful wardrobe distinctively lacks a ‘black’, or even a ‘dark’ section. The darkest item of clothing I own is a navy jumper, and even just possessing this for me, is stepping far outside of my colourful comfort zone. Everything else I own is a colour. And when I say colour, I mean the brightest, boldest colours you could possibly imagine – think hot pink flares and a bright orange turtlenecks.
My love for colour even seeps into other elements of my life; my bedroom is decorated with a glaring orange accent wall and placed all around the room are the greenest of green plants – my best attempt at bringing life inside of an otherwise dull space. Now, using the idea of fashion psychology, let’s take this sentiment and apply it to my love of colourful clothing. Subconsciously, do I think that I am the dull space that could do with a bit of brightening up?
Admittedly, I find it difficult to get my head around the idea of someone who simply does not care about what they wear. While that mindset to me of course sounds liberating, I have always been wrapped up in the idea that ‘you are what you wear’. Putting that statement to the test, I have decided to delve deeper into the world of colour and clothes, and find out if that’s true.
Author and colour psychology expert Karen Haller says that we use our own experiences to decide why we like and don’t like colour, meaning the clothes and colours that we choose to wear may indicate more about our personalities than we realise. Impacting our moods, attitudes, and even the relationships and interactions we have with others around us, Karen is a firm believer in the idea that ‘you are what you wear’.
‘The colours that we choose to wear are an expression of both how we are feeling and how we would like to feel.” Explaining my love of all things vibrant, Karen urges me to delve deeper into my psyche to get to the root of this mindset. After some discussion, we concluded that my predominantly timid and reserved temperament may mean that I use my clothes as a way of speaking without having to actually open my mouth. I came to the realisation that although I consider myself to be quite comfortable in my own skin, I do find it difficult to speak up or put myself ‘out there’. I will happily take a back seat and allow others to do the talking in any kind of group setting, and beginning conversations with people I don’t know? Well, that’s just out of the question.
Karen tells me that my opting for garish clothes may just satisfy my subconscious, giving it that little lift and added confidence it so greatly needs, “You may not realise this but it’s a way to attract more people to you, more people will come to talk to you and therefore your bright clothes are the opening hello.” My lively clothes are my armor I guess, a defense mechanism I had no idea I used. When my clothes are loud, I can be quiet, my clothes have done enough so that allows me to fade into the background, letting others take the limelight.
Contrary to my own vibrant mindset however, often many women tend to opt for darker clothing, avoiding bright colours like the plague. Lover of all things dark, our very own Editor-in-chief Vicki, shared her love for black clothing with me, revealing the possible reasons why she tends to gravitate towards darker shades on the colour spectrum. “Black is easy, chic, and flattering. It’s very hard to go wrong with, and very easy to look elegant in,” Vicki says. If, like Vicki you consider black attire to be your unofficial uniform, this gravitation can also reveal a lot about your personality. Serious and reliable, wearing the colour black can reflect self confidence, expert Karen says: “choosing to wear black could be coming from a position of authority, wearing all black, particularly in your place of work, says ‘I’m authoritative and knowledgeable in what I do’, resulting in your position becoming unquestionable.” I mean, which kind of makes sense doesn’t it? Have you ever seen a bouncer dressed in millennial blue?
Asking Vicki her thoughts on why she thinks she may be fond of wearing black, we discover that in contrast to my own dilemma, Vicki uses her clothes as a tool to tone down her bubbly personality. She says, “I think I’ve always wanted to be taken more seriously, but that’s kind of at odds with my jokey nature. Maybe I’m trying to give off more conservative vibes with my wardrobe subconsciously, so I don’t come across too loud or full-on.” Whether it is hinting at a self-sufficient or vulnerable personality, abundantly clear here, is the important role clothes play in portraying your character.
However, Individual personalities aside, Karen claims that often our choice of dress reflects the world we live in. As we are aware, we are living in uncertain and turbulent times. Socially, economically, and politically the current climate we are attempting to navigate is no simple task, resulting in us reaching for any form of safety blanket we can get our hands-on. Often, this safety blanket is our clothes, aiding us in feeling safe, protected and secure. Karen describes this as a really high basic human need, explaining that it can go one of two ways, “people can either fly in the face of society and choose to live in a place of optimism, becoming a rainbow of colour. Or, there are other people who will choose darker and more somber colours because this most accurately mirrors the world we are living in, and subconsciously this is a form of protection.”
Fascinated by this world of fashion and colour psychology, I have discovered that what we choose to wear truly does speak volumes. Whether you are asserting your authority with a little black dress, or showing you are open for conversation with a yellow blouse, it is clear that the way we dress reveals a lot about who we are. Will I try to break my rainbow wardrobe rut and wear more black? I’ll be honest, no. But that’s okay, because the bottom line is that fashion is about creating happiness, surely? The ability to choose an outfit offers possibilities, the possibility to feel happy, or safe, or to control the way in which others interact with you, and that within itself is empowering, whether we are aware of it or not. So the next time you open up your wardrobe and put on your favourite outfit, give it a little nod of acknowledgment, because it may reveal more about you than you even realise.
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