The Psychology Of Fashion


23 Mar 2015 20 Apr 2017

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Over the second half of the last century, the body has emerged as an object central to our behavior and to our drive for meaning. Therefore, fashion, being in close contact to our bodies, has started to receive the attention of public, artists, and intellectuals.

Psychology of fashion expression

It is a common saying, that individuals play the roles associated with their individuality and rank in society. One always has the wish to have a job in a large company; such companies are usually image-controlled. Companies want their employees to have proper appearance to look successful. Conservative clothing is still the most accepted successful look for an individual. Not only that, but companies want individuals also to reflect the status and professional performance of the company first by the impression left by the way their employers dress.

Those who are not playing roles associated with their positions in society appear as odd and not trusted this shows in being careful of what we do or say in their presence. Applying this to a customer employee interaction, the customer response should then be negative, and the impact of such negative response heightens and reaches higher administrative levels. Looking for a job is difficult especially if the aim is high, the way one manages his or her appearance may be an important key in giving a good first impression. The importance may mount to it may not matter what knowledge, approach or personality if one gets a wrong first impression. The answer to the question why employers encourage the image-control programs now becomes clearly comprehendible.

The usual society's look for women is that they appear placid. Nevertheless, women began to take on stronger and more authoritative look probably since society approved for them to wear trousers. This reworked copy is still developing; and women now are taking on not to wear makeup, styling hair, and wearing what has always been a men's wear characteristic such as neckties. It is true that a necktie gives reflects accountability, reliability, astuteness, and status, thus, a scarf may not be enough neckwear for women. These body attachments are not only a form of fashionable clothing, but used also to show the uniqueness of an individual.

When a job requirement is divergent communication with customers as in sales or public relations, important qualities for selection are good health and good- looking, as well as knowledge and familiarity with the product or firm. Nevertheless, not all managers appreciate these views; instead, they worry perhaps too much about the fashion outlooks, which can be a preference for selection.

Psychological theories related to Fashion

The bases of psychoanalysis theory as explained by Sigmund Freud are four principles:

  • Organization of personality.

  • Psychosexual phases of development.

  • Instinctive psychological activity.

  • Psychoanalytic method of psychotherapy.

Many psychologists applied Freud's psychoanalytic theory to the study of fashion:

Theory of shifting attractive zones

Fashion historian, James Laver the art historian (1899-1975) theorized the attraction or seduction principle is what governs women fashions. For that, the main drive behind changes in women fashions was the wish to attract the opposite gender. On the other hand, what governs changes in men's fashions is the hierarchy (pecking order or ladder) principle meaning that fashionable man's style highlights the socioeconomic status more than anything else does. According to Laver, female's dress, attracts males by discriminatively covering and hiding certain parts of the female anatomy. Thus, different fashions are based on shifting attractive zones. Fashion helps to keep interest in the body by building what can be called attractive capital that is covering up parts for longtime enough to build up a sense of delight when seeing them again.

Sexual symbolism of clothing

Alison Lurie the American novelist (born in 1926) applied the psychoanalytic theory in her description of what one's handbag communicates. Gender attraction is not all a handbag communicates. Its contents represent the contents of mind, or act as a portable identity clue. At the same time, however, the bag suggests magnet information in the eyes of the observer. A tightly closed, fastened, and folded purse points to a woman who protects her seclusion (physical and emotional). An open-topped heavily loaded bag, points to an open, trusting personality, which may call for approach. A handbag that has many compartments, points to a methodical organized mind or a woman who engages in many activities in life. A one-compartment handbag, on the other hand, points to the opposite especially if disorganized and mixed up. The executive woman who carries a handbag and a brief case together may have two opposing inconsistent characteristics. Lurie, in her book, also discusses the imagery associated with men's wear (umbrellas, hats, ties, and walking sticks).

Fashion is a way of self-expression. It allows people to transfer feelings and thoughts without saying a word, and if I may quote from Thomas Carlyle (the Scottish philosopher and writer 1759-1881); “Society is founded on fashion… If the cut of the costume signals intellect and talent, then the color suggests temper and heart”.


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