Dressing well is a form of self care. I talked to a friend of mine, and we had a really interesting conversation about how we present ourselves, how people treat us when we dress well and she told me how she believes that dressing well is a form of self care. The words really stuck with me, because they ring so much truth. She was telling me about her experience, in which when she entered a clothing store, she was wearing jeans and a top. During that day, the retail assistant didn’t acknowledge her. The next day, she was wearing a stylish outfit that was very much in her style, and the retail assistant paid attention and approached her to ask if she needed help.
I know this can sound terribly shallow, because shouldn’t someone regardless of the way they look be treated the same? Absolutely, I think we should always treat others fairly. However, it’s also common that we will assume what someone might be like, based on what they wear. As this is most often the first impression. There is a psychology behind the way we dress from the colours we wear. As I watched the video here, it does have a point. I do believe that to an extent, the way we dress and present ourselves will affect how others treat us. Clothes are a form of self expression that speaks for itself.
As I previously mentioned, I do feel that we shouldn’t judge someone for the way they dress. However, I also do feel that the way you dress is also an expression for how you feel about yourself. This means, if a person wears jandals, sweats and a jersey all the time, they might not be taken quite as seriously as a person wearing a tailored dress and flats. When we are presented as clean and tidy, we are more likely to be treated with respect, because it shows self care to oneself. Although, when I watched The Pursuit of happyness a few years ago, there is a scene here that shows that ones true character, attitude and ability is through who they are, not their clothes.
It’s good to look at both sides to gain perspective, because on one hand what we wear is important in presenting ourselves. On the other hand, we should be judged by our character and abilities, and not the way we look. We have power in choosing how to present ourselves to the world, through this silent language of fashion. The Huffington Post article says “Your style and the clothes you choose reflect and affect your mood, health, and overall confidence.” I think fashion can be empowering, when we fully embrace our personal style. It creates a natural confidence in knowing who we are.
This is why I don’t tend to wear bright colours or patterned and printed clothing, as most of them don’t tend to reflect my personality or how I feel about myself. I feel most myself when I wear black, navy, grey, brown, dark colours or denim. Black clothing takes up 90% of my wardrobe, because I feel that I suit it the most. It makes me feel clean cut, stylish and effortless. The colour psychology in what we wear can really make a difference in how we feel about ourselves, and how others will feel. I find wearing dark colours makes me feel organised, chic and well groomed.
I remember talking to a coworker, and he said he literally judges books by its cover, and I said to be honest, so do I. I may be more attracted to covers that have an artwork that I like, the colours that they use or a photograph that really speaks to me. We were talking about book covers, but it made me think about how what we wear is similar to the way we look at book covers. We may judge in that split second, what the content may be, in terms of what someone might be like. First impressions are important when it comes to how we dress, and after that it’s really getting to know someone for who they are.
Think of when you went on your first date, your first interview and your first dance. You probably made effort in grooming yourself a certain way, to present yourself for the occasion. In the video above, it talks about how dressing well is not only a sign of respect for yourself, but also for those around you. I do agree, and I also truly believe that dressing well can affect our emotional well being. I remember when I was freelancing, I would still get dressed in the morning as if I was going to an office. It made my mindset more focused on working, rather than staying in my pajamas.
Photography by Sun Jun
Clothes are one of the largest polluters in the world. There is so much we don’t see from the clothes we wear, from the source of the fabric, where the cotton was grown, how much water was used to bring the piece of clothing to life, what environment the worker who sewed the piece of clothing worked in, how much they are paid and many other aspects that are often clouded by heavy advertising that shows the clothing in an attractive manner to grasp our attention. We are all filled with stories, and everything we come across has a story to tell. The smallest pebble may have crossed an ocean, and yet it’s easy to see something and only see the surface of it.
I met a lovely person yesterday with such a passion for ethical fashion, it was truly inspiring and motivating. If you have Netflix then I highly recommend watching the documentaries: The True Cost and Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. A consumer culture is an ideology that tells us that we should acquire more things in order to build a sense of satisfaction within our lives. It encourages spending culture, building a desire for a lifestyle and convinces you that it is a source of happiness. It is a fact that the experiences we have outweigh the materials we own, and that building memories and relationships are far more valuable and will give true happiness that can sustain a lifetime.
What we consume should also reflect the value of long lasting wear and use. The power of advertising and marketing, is that it convinces the consumer that purchasing a particular good will change your life in a certain way. They persuade you that certain products can give your life more meaning or interest. In this interesting conversation I recently had with the person, we talked about how in the documentary there is a scene where there are massive sales in an American store. There are hundreds of shoppers rushing and running around the store, grabbing as fast as they can and even some fighting and pulling for something they have seen first.
The problem with the fashion industry is that many large companies mindset is to earn a huge amount of profit. There are those who are passionate about design, sourcing eco-friendly fabric and will only allow their clothes to be made in a production and manufacturing company that pays its workers a living wage in a safe environment. However, the over saturation of the industry is filled with actions that are corrupted. In an article here, it says The tragically poor and exploited lives of Chinese chip makers and Indian and Bangladeshi seamstresses are gaining worldwide visibility. Recent news concerning the unsafe living and working conditions of great masses of people is likely merely the tip of the exploitation iceberg.
I watched a film last night called The Shape of Water, (spoilers ahead) which delved with an array of themes. The film features an ocean creature, who is viewed as a monster by some of the characters within the film. However, there is a character who really is the monster, who takes advantage of his power and creates fear. He is an example of a capitalist consumer, such as when he is in a Cadillac store, the car salesman tells him that the teal car is driven by 4/5 most successful men in America (or something a long those lines). In the next scene, we see him drive off in one. It’s a clear example of how there is a certain value placed around materials, and how it shows and communicates one’s status, lifestyle and position in society.
Fashion is often viewed as superficial, but we all need clothing to wear, and the reality is that it is a form of comfort and communication. I don’t think Fashion is superficial, but really only certain people who make it superficial. It is those who believe that materials can show that they are better than someone else, that is one of the worst yet most common aspects of consumption. The truly superficial are those who produce clothes without any care for those making it, or the environment. These people in power have a lot of power to make great change, yet many companies only care about earning money. They will create a beautiful image from the advertising of the goods, but behind the scenes may be a sad reality.
It’s important to remind oneself of what are the truly important things in your life. The relationships you have are ultimately the biggest, as well as striving to do our best for the Earth. The character shows that many of us have an inkling of what we should do, but may not do it. An example, is when other’s decide not to recycle, those who litter, don’t try to understand the system or don’t care about the environment. It takes time, but it’s a matter of educating, spreading the message and raising awareness. It’s also a matter of turning it into action in your own life, and making the decision to consume less and support brands that have good ethics, transparent production and honest values.
What are your thoughts on consumer culture? How do you think we can make improvements in the fashion industry?