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How to Dress Better and Improve Your Life

Lesson 3 of 25

Psychology of Dress Principles

Jennifer Baumgartner

How to Dress Better and Improve Your Life

Jennifer Baumgartner

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Lesson Info

3. Psychology of Dress Principles

Lesson Info

Psychology of Dress Principles

These are just really types of behaviors that I look at, and I kind of examine each part of these behaviors. So the first behavior is the acquiring. And I ask you, how are you getting your clothes? How do you get your clothes? Yep? Online. Uh-huh. Brands that I've tried before, things that I know would go well with what I normally do, that whole thing that you talked about. It's already been tried. I really like working with someone, so I have some of my favorite boutiques and stores that I go to and they know me, and I can even call in advance and say I'm coming, and I'm taking this trip, and I need things, so I'm not happy about going into a big mall and just searching among the noise and the people. I like a little more curated, I guess, experience, yeah. Okay. Another thing I think about all the time is practicality. That's how I acquire my clothes. Practical for what I want to do, as she was mentioning. And so it sounds like for all of you, it's this internal comfort...

, that you either know it works, so you go to it, it makes sense. People that know you, you're not surrounded by this external chaos, and you're able to work with somebody who you feel comfortable with. So again, there is a emotional component to our clothing, and the dress behavior, specifically acquiring, is not just we're getting our clothing, it's that often we want to feel comfortable and do things that feel good, feel safe, when we're acquiring. We'll go into more detail about this, but you know, looking at things like, how do we pay for it? Are we in debt for it? Are we using cash? Are we using savings? Are we creating a little luxury fund at the beginning of each pay period? So how are we getting our clothing? Are we shopping online? Are we going to boutiques? Are we branching out to different types of designers? Are we doing vintage? So we're looking at all these things in terms of our acquiring. So, Jennifer, we got a few from the internet, if you're ready for our folks out there watching the class. Yes, definitely. So I get hand-me-downs from my dad. So I got a great tux from him, because we're about the same size. Nikki says, "Most of my outfits, a lot of them "I buy while I'm on vacation "when something catches my eye, and a lot of folks "are leveraging thrift stores." So there are a couple things, you know, when you're on vacation, those clothes serve a couple of purposes. Number one, they are reminders of your vacation. Okay? So every time you look at them, I would hope that your vacation is a pleasurable one, but every time you look at them, it's a reminder that you were on vacation. And when you pick out that beautiful sari or you pick out that wonderful top, you thing about this time when you were relaxed. The other interesting thing about going on vacation is usually you are relaxed, so you might be more likely to take risks. You're gonna be more relaxed to maybe spend a little more than you would normally have. You may not feel like you want to shop when you're at home, but when you're on vacation, you're relaxed and you can. So these are all the things that happen while you're on vacation. Again, I was joking around about letting your freak flag fly. When you're on vacation, you say, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, and then also what happens on vacation, you can kind of be a little freer, and your guard is let down, and you might dress a little differently. In terms of, you said a lot of secondhand clothing, and I think that's fantastic. And I'm gonna talk in our research and trend section a little more about that. I think that when we examine our clothes and the way they're made, and what we do with them, and then how we dispose of them, there is so much waste, and I think that we will feel better about how we shop and also better about what we're doing to the environment when we can kind of look at our waste, and also looking at the internal components. Why are we buying like this? And the secondhand clothing is great because it does allow us to buy within budget. We can have some creativity with it. We're not creating any new, or using any new resources as a result of our purchases, so I think there is a movement towards secondhand. You know, 10 or 20 years ago, if we were to say that we were buying secondhand, there was a stigma approach associated with buying used. And now I think that stigma is slowly going away, and people are much more comfortable buying clothes that are used or secondhand. I also think the quality of clothing, the clothing that was actually put out there, was better. The seams were aligned. The clothes were beautiful, and they didn't break our bank. I always loved seeing my mom's clothing, and she's had these clothes for 30, 40 years. They're beautifully made. They are in perfect condition. No fading of fabric or balling or breaking of seams, and I remember she told me it was little shops and stores that were very inexpensive. So it's much harder to find that now. So I think that's great that people are doing that. So that's the acquiring piece. Now we look at the assembling piece, and that's really how you're putting your outfits together. So I ask you, how are you putting your clothes together when you dress? Do you have a strategy, or is it basically like, when I was at home with my little girl, my daughter, hi Reagan (laughs) it was, okay, whatever has been laundered, like that is what I'm gonna wear. So what is your strategy for your dress? I feel like it's like you, oh you may really want to wear these shoes. So then you're like trying to assemble, like, maybe this shirt would be better with those shoes. So you're kind of, for me it's like that color coding. I don't want to be like perfectly color coded, you know, all, but it's like, that's how you assemble. For me it's looking at the colors and making sure I'm not wearing a red and a yellow and a green, you know? So it's like the color thematics. Another thing you mentioned was like picking out the shoes. A lot of people will do that. Like, they will dress for their shoes, which I think is fantastic. Like, they pick out their favorite shoe, and they're like, all right, I'm gonna make a dress based on this outfit. So there are lots of different ways. How about for you? For me it's giving equal love to all my clothes, so like if there is an item I haven't worn, it's like, okay, it's your turn. (students laughing) And then like just that, and then match the rest. I love that. So nobody should be left out. You're all gonna get a chance to be free. Okay, that's great. I think I try to look for a lot of blacks and neutrals, so pretty much everything goes with everything to create maximum flexibility and the least amount of thinking on my part. Yeah, so it's ease of use. So, you know, I've talked to you, and we're gonna talk to you later on, but you know, it's like the decision fatigue, and we'll get into that. It's just like, okay, I don't have to think too hard. I could just like, I know it works, it's a uniform, everything matches. And you're actually, it's interesting that you're looking at a wardrobe as a whole rather than separate pieces. So it is really helpful to look at a wardrobe in a holistic way. I find that especially when shopping. So yeah, there's different ways to assemble your clothing. I am very much a minimalist. I don't like to draw too much attention to myself, except when I'm in front of people on camera. (laughs) But normally, in my real life, I usually like just kind of go with the flow and be an observer, not call too much attention to myself with my clothing, but I do like signature pieces. So like this would be my signature piece. Usually belts are my signature piece. Earrings are another one. So my clothes are very kind of streamlined and simple, and I often will design my outfits around a signature piece, again, usually a belt. And that's how I do it, and that just like works for me. And then I try to keep everything else super simple like you. My wardrobe is like a whole organism, rather than separate pieces. And I think it's great, trying to make sure like, have you been worn this week? Do you feel loved? I think is also a way that I kind of can look at my clothes. So we all assemble in different ways, and it's really interesting to look at like how are you assembling, and what prompts it? Yes. So when you're talking about like signature pieces, do you take that signature piece and put everything around it? Yes. For me that's easier. Right. Because now I see like there's a trend, especially with men, that colorful socks is becoming one of those things, or pin lapels, is that what you're talking about? Yeah, it's almost like we are called to be conservative and dress appropriately for work, but why can't I show a little personality with my crazy socks? And I think, yeah, that's exactly what people are doing. It's like they're lifting up the iceberg a little bit and letting somebody see a little bit of fun and pizazz. Because in this day and age, men don't wear as much, as many ties as they used to. Right. So now, that used to be a right to be colorful and everything else. But now I guess it's socks or something else. Socks, pocket squares are a big one. People are also doing, men specifically are doing a lot more custom pieces, so rather than buying off the rack, they're able to personalize their shirts. I've noticed like collars that have different fabric on the inside, so they might do like a floral shirt and then on the inside of the cuffs and the collar have like a floral. Oh great, okay, yeah, see? Different buttons. So those are things that men are doing. And again, fashion has kind of always been a female sport, and men were often left out. But now I think men are able to take more of a leading role in how they dress and what they want, and they're able to put their creativity in that process without receiving any negative backlash. So as men are becoming increasingly interested in fashion kind of within the general public, you're gonna see these more creative ways of expressing who they are. And again, a trend definitely is, men are customizing what they wear, is really interesting to see that trend has taken up kind of more importance. All right, so again, assembling is a method of dress. You may stay true to a uniform, go for a different look every time, try as many looks as you want until you get it right, mixing and matching, things like that. So they're all the different ways of assembling. The next piece is the storing and organizing. So if I were to walk into your closet right now, I see you like, oh, not me (laughs) what would I see? I can disclose first, if that makes you feel more comfortable. Anybody? Yes. Well, going back to the colors, I might be a color person. I'll have like all the different whites, then the blacks. Even if there's a mix of the different styles of shirts or skirts, you know, it's like polos and tank tops. But they're all in the white section. So for me it's color organization. Color. I organize by type of clothes, like all the coats and then all the tops and pants and skirts and dresses. Right. You would see a lot of black in mine, yeah. In mine I also have it by category, and also by color. But I've found that throughout, like, as I've grown, like my body shape has changed, so I have like different forms of dresses, for example, just... Depending on your body. Yeah. Well, I have shirts that are more of solids and non-solids, and then try to have by color of solids and non-solids and so forth. Pants are all hanging, that sort of thing. Shoes are on top of each other and organized. I try to stay organized so I can see what's there, and I take a big picture to see what I can pick out. Okay, so you spoke to organization, kind of the neatness factor. How about for the rest of you? Who's a mess? (laughing) I am. Yes. Total mess. It's as if a person that had no eyesight was putting my clothes into my closet, and you can't see the floor. So from the internet, I think Azim is the same way. Hurricane Katrina aftermath. Lee is hiding under the desk. Sally says, "Too many things I don't wear." (laughing) And these are all okay. There is a cure for all of this. But it really comes down to, this is kind of the theme of the entire program, it's whatever's causing discomfort is what we look at. If you are a total slob, okay, good for you. If it doesn't bother you, like, let it be. Enjoy that. That's how you are. We don't need to change that. It's really when it's causing you issues that we will come in, I will come in and kind of alter that. So with your storing and organizing, I will admit I am a little obsessive. I need things like super structured. I have to have almost nothing. My family likes to joke around that if I had my dream, I would sleep on a small palette and have a hot plate and that would be all I need. (laughing) Maybe a couple of nice belts. But for me it's just like having less, and it's not because of anything more than just when I'm feeling like everything else in chaos, there's a lot going on. There's different things in my house, like with my daughter, and my husband's business, and what I'm doing, that I just want to have one thing, kind of what you were talking about, Amy, is just having one area where I'm like, ah, it's so organized, and it feels so good. So that, for me, is why my closet is my area where I can just feel like I'm effective. And then I actually, I'm working against my husband and daughter in this one, but my whole house I like to try to keep that way, where less for me is so much more. Things are kind of under a color theme. And then I'm able to do everything else that may be completely crazy, at least I can do this with some semblance of efficiency. So that's my assembling. Okay. Removing. So this is simply, not removing your clothing, it's actually removing your items from your closet. And this is something that I've added on. I only used to look at the three, but I've noticed, again, as we're talking, people who were watching were contributing and saying that they were looking at secondhand clothing, and I see that shift, and I see the increased consciousness of our clothing and how we buy it, and I feel like that needed to be addressed. We need to look at how we remove our clothing. That is important. And so I ask you, how are you taking your clothes out of your wardrobe? What are you doing with them? I give most of mine away. I did a pretty big purge of my closet a couple years back, so I had friends kind of pick out anything that they wanted, and everything else left over that was still in good condition went to like Goodwill. I know people that have made quilts from old t-shirts. Yeah. I try to go through it and see if I haven't worn it. I heard about, if you haven't worn it for one year, you won't wear it again. But that's not the case because of the type of clothes I buy. I tried to go and see if I haven't worn it for two years, it's not gonna work anymore. So I'll just kind of clean up and get rid of, that sort of thing. Shoes, socks when they have holes in them, they go, or when shirts are discolored, or they just look tired. That's how I remove them and purge them. Right, and we'll talk a little bit more about this when we're looking at kind of simple fashion, but I think we do need to be conscious about how we remove our clothing, because we think that we got rid of it, like it's gone. It's not gone. If we can give it away to somebody who actually we know will be using it, that's wonderful. Often when we give away to stores that are taking our secondhand items, some of it may not be purchased or used, so thinking about where that clothing is going. Is it shipped off in large kind of bundles and causing pollution in other countries? Can we use the clothes like calling up your local vets and shelters and seeing if little scraps of clothing can be used. There are also clothing scrap recyclable places, so a lot of times different organizations that take used cloths or any used items, they will recycle your clothing scraps, your rags, for you. So there's a lot that we can do with that, but I felt that I needed to add that in, because I think it is a really important factor. So again, quite simple, removing is just the method of getting rid of your clothes. And you can sell it, you can give it away, you can swap it, you can lend it, things like that. There are different ways.

Class Description

Every time we buy a piece of clothing and choose an outfit to wear, we’re saying something about who we are. Our dressing behaviors are like windows into our psyches, exposing our deepest feelings, desires, conflicts, and problems.

Author and clinical psychologist Dr. Jen Baumgartner will begin by looking at the general principles of psychology of dress and fashion, then dive into the nine most common dressing difficulties—from buying more than we need to being bored with our look to avoiding mirrors.

In this fascinating course, Dr. Baumgartner will not only help you examine your wardrobe and how it reflects your emotions, but will teach you how to modify your choices so you can make real improvements to your life—both inside and out.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Understand the principles of acquiring, assembling, storing, organizing, and removing.
  • Identify which of the nine dress difficulties applies to you.
  • Stop buying items that you don’t really need or want.
  • Avoid always being in work clothes or mom jeans.
  • Formulate a strategy for changing your behaviors and revamping your wardrobe.

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Yolanda Azpiazu

Loved it! Incredible class, so interesting and filled with new concepts, I am a big fan of the author and I admire her for the way she suggests us to analyse things with curiosity and looking "bellow the water", rather than judgement. Thank you so much for this wonderful class Dr. Baumgartner.

a Creativelive Student

It's about how you dress, but really, it's about how to use the way you dress as a lens to better understand yourself. Packed with useful information and tips, highly recommend! Thanks Jenny!