Getting right to the point. (Ha!) Pointy-toed black patent kitten heel pumps. I’m suddenly enamored of this style again, and am so glad I kept these shoes which are a few years old.
Style And Psychology
Last week I had lunch with my friend Tracey Cleantis. She’s a psychotherapist and has written two wonderful books (The Next Happy, and An Invitation To Self Care.) Tracey is passionate about her work, and since I’ve known her has always been passionate about style and fashion. It had been too long since we’d seen each other, and we had a marvelous time catching up. I’ve been very excited to hear about her next project: a book about the psychology of style and clothing. She’s really on fire with this one!
Tracey’s been sharing some thoughts and snippets of ideas for the book on her Facebook page. Between those and our conversations, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about style as an outward reflection of our inner selves.
Why do we like what we like? Why do certain clothes make us feel more confident, regardless of whether they are conventionally flattering? Why does a simple, neutral outfit thrill me, while a friend needs color and pattern to feel completely dressed? After our conversation, my brain was buzzing for days.
Decoding Style Preferences
Something that Tracey had posted a couple of weeks ago got me thinking about my love of black. Even though I’m adding a little more navy and grey to my neutrals, black is still my True North. I’ve been asked whether I wear black to hide; on the contrary I feel much more visible in black than in bright colors or patterns. Wearing something black makes me feel solid and grounded. To some black is boring; to me it’s a distillation down to what’s elemental. It’s never felt like a mournful color to me.
I’ve learned that I go on sensory overload in situations where there’s a lot of stimulation, and that goes for my clothing too. Too much pattern, color or detail overwhelms me, and not just physically. It can actually be emotionally draining.
I was raised to value logic and reason, and tend to be a very practical person. So that plays out in my style as well…I tend to avoid clothing that feels impractical (like those big crazy sleeves that I can’t look at without imagining dragging them through my salad). And my mother was extremely critical, so I absorbed a lot of those “you-can’t-wear-x” beliefs and am still trying to separate my judgement from hers.
Style is rarely just as simple as “wear what you like.” We all have cultural references, old associations, and current inputs that shape what we value and what appeals to us. That doesn’t mean that our style can’t evolve and change, but I do think it’s important to listen to and honor that inner voice that will tell you if something feels right or not.
Anyhow, Tracey’s also going to begin consulting with people individually on the psychology of their closets. Wouldn’t that be cool??
Have you uncovered any psychological factors that influence your clothing choices?