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Monday, 5 November 2012

The Psychology of Clothing Choice



Last weekend I read You Are What You Wear by Jennifer Baumgartner. Well, skimmed it. It wasn't terribly relevant and took itself a little too seriously for my liking. It was an interesting contrast to Overdressed by Elizabeth Cline. Cline makes it sound like rampant consumerism is a product of cheap mass production, YAWYW makes it sound like everything you buy is a product of some underlying neurosis. Internal versus external.

There wasn't a whole lot in the 'diagnosis' parts of the book that really grabbed me, which hopefully indicates that my clothing choice is not subject to some underlying dysfunction. Or maybe I'm just not that self-aware.

There were some good ideas on how to maximize what you do have and strategize to get the look you want.
I did like her strategy of breaking clothes down into categories and trying to find multi-function pieces. Like, say you have evening clothes, work clothes, casual clothes and work out clothes. A white oxford shirt could be paired with lace and dramatic earrings for evening, a wool skirt and cardigan for work or jeans and a chunky sweater for casual. That's three out of four contexts with one garment.

This is definitely something that I've tried to be conscious of when choosing what to make. In the summer I tried to make things that would work for casual and work outfits, but a lot of the clothes that I made ended up being a little too casual, even for my relaxed office. I could have worn them but I didn't feel completely comfortable in them in a work environment. This fall, I'm trying to focus on work that I can make work for other situations with styling.

Baumgartner also writes a lot about moving your wardrobe pieces down the levels of dressiness, which I can totally get behind, except that she says that the last step is to move thins from 'casual' to 'workout'. I think it may help me avoid sewing things that are too casual if I aim to make things that are a little on the dressier side and then dress them down instead of the other way around.

What tricks do you use to maximize your wardrobe?

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