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Fashion, Psychology Influence the Mind

September 13, 2021

Fashion is a state of expression. People are motivated to be fashionable by psychological factors. Putting fashion and psychology together means making a practice and study that dives deep into the human mind- a subject many know about but not enough pay attention to. 


The Basics  

Dawnn Karen, an instructor at the Fashion Institute of College defines her own version of fashion psychology as the “study and treatment of how color, image, style and beauty affects human behavior, while addressing cultural norms and cultural sensitivities.” Michael Solomon says that fashion psychology is a bit misleading. They say the field looks beyond the “clothing’s impact on the individual. Its focus transcends clothing to also consider the impact of many other products that express self-identity.” 

 The term “enclothed cognition,” is used to describe the systemic influence clothes have on the wearer’s phycological process. The New York Times brings up perceptions and standards of attractiveness which are a big part of the reason people study fashion and psychology. Breaking it down perception attractiveness is how other people perceive someone and how attractive they find that person. Standard attractiveness is being average in society and being someone, people overlook because they do not care to perceive them. 


Life Alterations  

According to Brain Fodder, “science says that the clothes we wear affect our behavior, attitudes, personality, mood, confidence, and even the way we interact with others.” The relationship between attire and attitude explains it is not just the way the clothes look but how they make someone feel.  

Wearing something one loves gives them a sense of confidence that no one can take away. To state differently, wearing a dress of one’s favorite color and cut or just wearing something someone feels beautiful in will set a happy mood for a perfect day by increasing hormones. Whereas wearing pants that do not fit right or are simply unfulfilling will set the day up for disaster leaving only the drab clothes chosen to fall back on.  

Behavior is directly affected by the appearance of clothing. To illustrate, wearing a uniform such as a lab coat will encourage determination and focus on the mind. Wearing gym clothes eliminates excuses and tricks the mind into working out and making healthier choices. School children in Kenya performed better when wearing a uniform. The list goes on, but anything worn affects the behavior of the person wearing them good or bad.  

When picking out clothes one will match their attire to the occasion requiring their presence. Choosing something that matches what others are wearing means picking something that will set the mind in a sense of confidence. Certain colors match certain images and feelings in the mind. There is a reason everyone will be spotted in black at a funeral instead of yellow. But by simply looking at a color the mood of a person can change. Referring to Brain Fodder, “cheerful colors work as a mini pick-me-up; and thus, boosting our mood and energy” and “we associate deep and dull colors with low energy, being tired and a more somber mood.” Meaning picking clothes of a certain color that matches the occasion is essential to a successful event. 


You Are What You Wear 

Clothes affect the way one is perceived in society. Motivated to dress with style comes with “conformity, desires for variety seeking, the need to express personal creativity, and sexual attraction” for this reason “appearance directly impacts the way people are treated,” according to Michael Solomon.  

Signaling theory, something other fashion psychologists refer to when talking about the role of clothing in attraction, agrees with the website. Michael Solomon uses the example of the peacock. The male peacock displaying his astonishing fan of feathers to attract a female who will reciprocate his attractions. 

Humans relate to this instinct by wearing clothes they think are attractive or clothes society tells them are attractive. Society has told all people what to wear and what to do with their lives and bodies. This a problem all people face not just women though women are a good example. When one feels good, they look good despite the fact of society’s approval.  

Following trends is a part of everyone’s daily routine. With fashion, people stay in the guidelines of the trends but also mix in their personal style to appear to have their own sense of style. “People may conform to the basic outlines of fashion, but still improvise to make a personal statement within these general guidelines,” as stated by Michael Solomon. Consumers have a need for uniqueness. People want to stand out and be different but only with others’ approval.  


Economy Affects  

Fashion psychology is important to marketers. Michael Solomon’s article on fashion psychology explains, marketers “need to understand the factors that make it likely a product will be adopted by a group of consumers and need to predict how long that product will continue to stay in fashion.” For example, a classic is an item that has a very long acceptance cycle that has been accepted by a large group of consumers. A “fad” is an item with a short-lived cycle. A fad generally spreads quickly to a small group and is seen as outdated a few weeks after delivery. 

Economists see fashion as a cycle of supply and demand. High prices create high demand and lower prices reduce demand. People see cheap as low quality and something with an easy replacement. This is what is known as the snob effect.  

Carolyn Mair, a psychologist with a Ph. D. in cognitive neuroscience, talks about sustainably produced clothes. “Brands have been good at raising awareness of the issue, but not at influencing purchasing decisions.” She says if the fashion industry could work with psychologists, they could “implement scientifically based behavioral change programs to influence what consumers buy.” 

Consumers buy what produces a feeling of life fulfillment. They crave this feeling over and over because it only lasts for a certain amount of time. Advertising uses fashion psychology to tell the consumer they need something new by placing certain colors and feelings in ads. Consumers play their part as the corporations want and the cycle continues and until death do us part has a new meaning. 


What to do 

  Fashion plays into every aspect of life and is there for every feeling of it. It is important to enhance these feelings and let them shine through instead of trying to cover them up. Incorporating style into how someone is feeling gives a sense of individuality and confidence. 

Psychology wants these aspects, for expressing oneself will help someone to wear the right colors and shapes in their outfit. It will help them to match the occasion and stay within the necessary guidelines. It will also let them achieve their highest level of perceived and standard attractiveness. 

Psychology in fashion allows someone to appear attractive by changing something simple such as a color. Even though they still look the same they appear more attractive to the human eye and mind. This leads to confidence among the human race. When someone can use the elements, they already have, they develop a sense of security and beauty. 

Fashion psychology is used by everyone every day. By waking up and putting on clothing one is showing the world how they feel and how they are choosing to look that day. From sweatpants to a suit everything is a choice, and everything can and will be influenced using psychology.  

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