Fashion: Psychologique Chic

The clothes one wears can determine how he or she is treated much more than one likes to think.

Written by KATIE BROWN / Published November 13, 2009

The clothes draped about one’s body can be defined as simply as man’s obligation to common decency; strategic “cover-ups,” if you will. However, fashion has clearly evolved into something “more” from the time anthropologists estimate its advent — around 100,000-500,000 years ago.

Originally just animal skins to keep warm, clothing and fashion turned more to decoration and ornamentation as centuries progressed and certain fashion-inspired eras prevailed.

Now, sociologists argue that fashion has become a psychological trigger for moods and emotions. Not only a trigger; fashion has an almost extreme mental influence on both the wearers and the observers.

According to an independent study, only 7 percent of a first impression what is said, 38 percent is how it is said, and a whopping 55 percent is appearance and clothing. Judgments may be passed on almost solely what one is wearing.

For a school project, a group of seventh-graders decided to brave the prepster-mecca, Abercrombie and Fitch, the alternative-haven, Hot Topic, and the fantasy-lover’s corner, Games Workshop. As an experiment, they dressed as different stereotypical style genres. A motley group they were as they entered the respective stores; one dressing as an exaggerated Goth with black lipstick and spiked jewelry, another conforming to a more preppie, popped-collar style, and the third sporting typical ‘nerd’ attire.

They found, as one may predict but not actually expect, that their clothing altered their treatment and reception in each store.

In Abercrombie and Fitch, the ‘Goth’ and ‘nerd’ were virtually ignored, while the ‘prep’ was asked most solicitously whether he needed assistance. Similar behavior occurred in all three stores. The students’ conclusion? That people are judged by and therefore treated differently for their choice of clothing.

The same can be said for job interviews. Statistics dominate which indicate that an employer is less likely to hire a person whose appearance does not measure up, regardless of how they interview personally.

Fashion’s multi-colored, multi-faceted elements allow for both positive and negative perceptions from the outside. Due to this flaw in human superficiality, fashion’s means for judgment stunt what appears to be a growing, changing, and thriving industry.


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