Deputy Style Editor, Lottie Moore, discusses the psychology behind why we choose to wear what we do when we open our wardrobe every morning.
It is extremely difficult to dress for oneself and not for others. However much we feel as though we choose what we wear, there is always an external set of influences – although perhaps only subconsciously acknowledged – which choose our clothes for us.
Societal pressures exert huge influence on why we choose to wear what we do; it took me a long time to accept I like clothes marketed at women 40 years older than me. Aged fourteen, I would trawl through Topshop buying ripped skinny jeans, when actually I really liked the knitwear in M&S. I spent four years at school essentially blind because wearing glasses wasn’t cool.
We are impulsively driven towards things we think flatter us. I have been told the better angles of me to show off, and the bits that are best to keep hidden, so it is no coincidence that I like wearing clothes that tailor to this. I used to work in a clothes shop and the number of times people would try something on and proclaim that they couldn’t buy it despite loving it because they were ‘65 and a grandmother!’ shows how easily we become locked into a look.
Once someone is labelled with a tag a certain expectation exists. It is not impossible to start dressing for ourselves. An overly simple principle, but one not often practised, is to choose things purely on the basis that we like them. Wearing fishnet tights, simply because you like them, is an entirely legitimate reason to wear them. We should push past the idea that we need to fulfil a certain criteria that supposedly comes with them, and stop caring what our mothers think.
— SA Fashion Forum (@safashionforum) September 18, 2017
Even the garments you think you will never wear, you will find yourself clinging onto, as they represent a secret fantasy version of yourself. Wear those things at the back of your wardrobe that you bought on a whim. Stop thinking ‘if only I were a bit thinner’, or ‘I need bigger boobs for this top’. Care less about what everyone else will say or think. When they’ve made their debut once, you’ll wear them again, and you will love yourself for it.
On this principle, getting dressed in the morning becomes a crucial form of self-expression; an outlet of creativity where clothes can do some of our talking for us. Equally admirable are those who do not attach clothes to any kind of value. Dressing in the morning is as monotonous as brushing teeth and simply a means to an end.
So if fashion is about the clothes, then style is about the wearer, and most significantly, how much of what we wear is chosen by us. Dressing to make yourself happy is perhaps the most reliable way to get it right. Not everyone will like your style, but at least it is yours.