Wardrobe Analysis: Examination
This stage really is seeking to answer the question, what you have and why you have it. So in this way, I'm really looking at the external piece, which is the wardrobe items, what's in the wardrobe, how the person's buying these things, where it's coming from, who taught them. Very similar to the questions that we examined in the other segment, just that list of questions. I'm usually going over that with a client and trying to answer, where is this person coming from in terms of their dress? And then internally, what's going on in his or her life? And often, there's some kind of connection or there's a disconnect, so I try to connect the two. Some of things I might find for the internal stuff is a person stuck in a rut, a person who's either dressing against the age, or totally the opposite of the age that they are, a person who might have body image issues, a person who's dissatisfied with his or her life and career, a role that they might be fulfilling. I also might see issues of tr...
auma. So trauma might come up with why people are dressing they way are. So there are all kinds of things that come out of this seemingly insignificant behavior called dress behaviors. I connect the person's wardrobe, what they actually have, with they what they actually want. And on the undercurrent of the water, I look for the life they have and the life they want, and I try to draw a bridge in between. Ultimately, it comes down to, does a wardrobe match the lifestyle that the person wants? Not the lifestyle that the person has, but what they actually want 'cause I'm trying to get them there with their wardrobe. So I ask you, what dress patterns cause you difficulty in your life? And why are they there? So this is the examination. I'm kinda cracking you open a little bit. What dress patterns cause you difficulty? I know, for me, I get stuck in a rut. I wear the same ol' thing over and over and it's pretty predictable, it's relatively plain. Sometimes, I like to call a classic, but then I, like, step over into the kind of, I don't wanna think about it too much side. And I know that it's tough for me to infuse a little excitement in my life and I try to do that with my clothing to help me.
I think what I have works and that's one less thing to worry about. In daily basis, I don't have to think about how am I gonna match what to whom. I know it works, I can go about my day, what I need to do. That's one of the major reasons I choose the way of... For most of the day. If you're going out, that's a little different. But in normal stuff, that's what I do.
Has any of it caused difficulty for any of you? Or your wardrobe's just not working anymore?
I feel like for me, it's like, you know, where do you spend most of your time? So like, for me, it's like work and things like that. So then, it's, like, you go out with friends, not just, like, dinner, maybe, like, going out-out. That's where I'm like, oh, so these clothes aren't... Now, these clothes I have are causing me difficulty 'cause I'm like, I don't know if I really want that for going out. So then you start to realize, okay, maybe actually I do need to go shopping or things like that.
So it's kinda similar to your child experiences, a parallel when you, you know, you're wearing a uniform. The work uniform is like your school uniform. And then when you actually have a free day, it's like, now what? So yeah, when you have a certain role that you have and then you're adding on another piece, you do have to have clothing for that separate piece of your life. And you know, we do talk about how we can take work clothes into night, but it is difficult. And sometimes, it is nice to actually get out physically and psychologically out of your work clothes and put on something different. And again, it's like assuming a different role.
Assuming that throughout your presentation, clothing that we wear is a part of communication that we do with whoever we interact with, I don't even know if it's causing difficulty or not. It's just one of those things that we do based on habit. But how do I know it's even causing difficulty?
It's 100% for you. So yes, when we wear clothes, we are communicating a message and we hope that message gets translated to the person that receives it and there's nothing lost in that translation. But for you, if you are happy with the message that you look yourself and think it works and it's good, then there doesn't need to be change there. If you wanna do a little experiment, maybe you can try something a little louder or flashier, a little bit out of your comfort zone just to see what that does feel like. I always think that's a fun thing to do for many people in their wardrobe, is try something that you normally wouldn't wear. And you don't have to buy it, you can borrow it from a friend, something like that. And just feel what it feels like and maybe wear it a couple of times in different scenarios where people aren't gonna see you in it, you know, more than once. And just see what that experience is like for you. So just kind of test the boundaries. Sometimes, you don't know if there's an issue until you try something new and then you realize, wait a second, I was missing out on this. But if you don't feel like there's any issues, then you keep doing what you're doing and that's fine.
So when you experiment, how do you gauge the feedback?
You usually can feel it. So if people are like... What's up with you? Or they say, hey, that's a great outfit! It's not something you normally wear. Or you feel more energized by it. You're acting a little differently and then people are responding to that change. So again, it's not about, really, how other people respond that alters your behavior. I think you need to do what's good for you, but it's how you feel. And if you get a positive response, that's just merely an added bonus, right? But yeah, these are really fun things to try. There's kind of the makeover-the-top and then there's the make-under, right? So you would be the makeover-the-top and for you, you're using a lot of colors and patterns, so you're always feeling comfortable, you know, showing your energy. It would be interesting, if you wanna try it, you don't have to, to go the opposite way and say, like, does this feel weird? Does this feel different? You may often find that when you're trying something totally new that's the opposite of what you are, you're very happy with where you are and it further solidifies that yes, what I have and what I'm doing is right for me.
So you're testing the boundaries.
For me, if I'm reading that, like, what causes difficulty are, like, ill-fitting clothes that, like, if I wear something that's a bit tight that I don't feel comfortable breathing, for example, it causes difficulty. And the reason why they're still in the wardrobe is because I feel, oh, you know, I'm gonna lose more pounds and then it will fit me, so.
Well, and it's funny 'cause there are physical indicators of our weight or how our clothing fits. We use our scales, you know. Now, we have more technologies, so we can measure, like, how calories burn and things like that. So clothing is certainly a way where we can physically inhabit our weight and know whether or not we've gained. It's often a gauge. And then we continue the discussion and we'll talk about this more, the understanding of weight and value, and how, unfortunately, in many cultures, as our weight increases, our value decreases. That there's this inverse relationship between the two that should not be there. But we're given those messages. You never see a magazine article on how to gain weight. Right?
I wanna do a test. On the day after New Year's or around New Year's, go and look at the magazine headlines and what does it say for New Year's?
New Year's resolutions.
Which is what? How to lose weight. Or right before bikini season, what do you see?
Bikini body, right? How to lose 20 pounds. So we never see anything that tells us that we want to gain weight. You won't see an article on how to gain weight. You'll usually see articles that, you're supposed to lose weight. And even if you're a total healthy size, you are supposed to lose weight. So that's another issue is that, one, individually, what it's like for you to gain weight. But the second piece is sociologically, what does it mean to gain weight? And clothes are a reminder of that. So dealing with both the physical experience, not being able to breathe, and then the associations. Very similar to the enclothed cognition study, which we'll talk about further. The physical experience of the clothing. Ugh, I can't breathe! And then the associations. Ooh, it's tight, I better lose weight 'cause I'm not gonna be attractive anymore. Or I'm not gonna look good anymore. Or this means I've, in some way, done something wrong. So those kinds of things come out when we gain weight.