Monday, November 10, 2008

Clothing as Self Expression

With the upcoming OYFP charity fashion show this Thursday, my thoughts this week have turned to clothing. Just exactly why do we take it so seriously? And when does this obsession (for some of us) start?

In every culture, communication is not just what comes out of our mouth, it's our body language, it's how we fashion our hair, it's who we gather around us, it's what we put on our bodies, that communicates our message to those who know us (or don't).

Typically we start to become more aware of what we put on our bodies when we're teens. "Mom, I cannnnn'tttttt wear that!!!!! NO NO no NO No No!" This is the period when we're a little bit lost (psychologically) and trying to fit in with our identified group until we figure it all out, and it is of upmost importance we don't misstep, though invariably we always do.

Really, though, this doesn't change much even as we age. We continue throughout our lives to wear clothing similar to that of our friends, or perhaps similar to that of people with whom we would like to be friends. Researchers have postulated that clothing helps us satisfy our "higher order needs" of belonging and self-esteem. Some adults take it even farther - for them, clothing has been found to contribute to a sense of well-being or quality of life.

Think about it - we all have that favorite t-shirt or dress, and it's not only because of how it fits, but because of how it makes us feel. Even guys who proclaim "I don't care what I wear" can't help but feel good when they're wearing that blue tshirt that they know makes their eyes look good, or a suit that makes them look sharp.

So. Where do you fall on the scale of caring about what you wear? Or don't you?

Related Posts: Who is Happier?; How to be Happier
Related Events: OYFP Fashion Show, Nov 13 from 8 PM to 11 PM. Tickets are just $20, all proceeds go to Christopher's Haven.

This blog post was based on research I read about from the paper Clothing in the Self-System of Adolescents by M. Suzanne Sontag, Mihaela Peteu, and Jongnam Lee (1997).

1 comment:

Krystle said...

I think clothes makes a big part of a first impression with people.

I do like my clothes to have functional aspect (keep me warm, or cool depending on the season), but also show that I can be taken seriously. For example, if I wore a tube top for a shirt at work and tight fitting dress pants, most people no matter how good I am at work, will not be able to look past the clothes and take me seriously.

So I hope my clothes says something to the order of I look presentable and that they are functional.