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How to Dress Better and Improve Your Life

Lesson 24 of 25

Wardrobe Psychology

Jennifer Baumgartner

How to Dress Better and Improve Your Life

Jennifer Baumgartner

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Lesson Info

24. Wardrobe Psychology

Lesson Info

Wardrobe Psychology

American Orthapedics Society in 1999 assessed education and heel height. What do you think they found? I'll tell you what they found. The higher the heel, the less educated the person. Now, I'm gonna argue against that, right? But really what they found is there is a correlate between a lower heel, more educated, a higher heel, less educated and why is that? And I- they didn't go into more details about why that is. I would wonder is it because what we're taught? That in order to be taken more seriously, we have to kind of take away our femininity. And often femininity can be expressed wearing heels. So there's really interesting understanding of why that is. Is it also that if we're entering more of a male-dominated world as we get more rights to get education and enter different fields? Are we removing our femininity to be seen as less feminine? Because often feminine has a negative connotation with our ability to achieve in the workforce? And I don't really know why that is. I would...

imagine that might be why. There's also another really interesting study about shoes and first impressions. And this is probably my favorite study. It was done by Nicholas Guigen and it was published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. And it looked at shoes and what impressions the shoes had on the wearer and what impression the shoes had on an observer. Okay, so there was a participant and then there was the observer. I'll call, I'll label those things for you. So, they had participants. Participants within kind of a relatively-large age range with varying demographic information and the participant took a picture of his or her shoes. Nothing else. Then the participant was asked to fill out a self-assessment, right? So looking at what they did, who they were, their political affiliations, whether they felt comfortable working, being with other people, things like that. And then they had an observer. And the observer just looked at the shoes. And then they had to fill out, based on what the shoes the person wore, what was that participant really like? And then they said, is there any correlation between how a person assesses what they are and what an observer thinks? And this is what they found. There was a correlation. And that's where I think it's just fantastic. The correlation was the following. That age, gender, income, attachment anxiety and agreeableness were most accurately-predicted. So a person assessing themselves on those various categories, just took pictures of their shoes. The observer filled out a questionnaire and what the person thought of him or herself in terms of age, gender, income, attachment anxiety and agreeableness were accurately-predicted. Just wearing shoes. And then they also looked at what people, like what did these shoes represent? Were more people more likely to wear certain types of shoes depending on their qualities? And they found that those who were concerned about making a positive impression with the shoes were insecure in their relationships. Those who didn't care about what people thought about their shoes, don't care when they think about anything else. So if you're not attending to your shoes, A talkative, interactive person will wear an energetic and eye-catching shoe. The more expensive and uncomfortable the shoe, with a visible brand name, the less agreeable the wearer is. Attention to detail on shoes is consistent throughout other areas of the wearer's life. Now I'm like looking at all your shoes. Unstable people wear uncomfortable shoes, so I'm probably unstable 'cause I wear uncomfortable shoes all the time. And comfortable, when you're comfortable with a conversation piece shoe, you're also comfortable with other experiences. So when you think about it, it kinda makes sense because what you feel like you wanna present to the world often is an extension of who you are on the inside. But I just thought it was so fascinating that first impressions can be made just by looking at someone's shoes and relatively-accurate. That was kinda most-interesting part. Now we look at dress and mood. So, there is a psychologist. Her name is Dr. Karen Pine and she assesses and researches dress and mood and dress behaviors and things like that. And she noted that our mood determines our clothing choices and our clothing choices can alter our mood. So through scientific research, she kind of discovered the crux of all of this psychology of dress stuff. The inside out piece... which is, when we feel sad, we dress a certain way. A hundred women were examined. 50 percent wore jeans when they were depressed, only 30 percent when they were happy. 57 percent wore baggy tops when they were depressed. And two percent only wore baggy tops when they were happy. Six percent wore their favorite dress when they were depressed and 62 when they were happy. Hats were worn two times as much by depressed women as when they were happy. People wore their favorite shoes 31 percent of the time when they were happy and only six percent of the time when they were depressed. Our mood determines our clothing choices. We know this. We've studied it. It's come out. What she also found out was, our clothing choices can alter our mood. Inside out, outside in. Happy clothes are well-cut, figure-enhancing, bright and beautiful. You talk about the brights, the feelings of your clothing giving you energy, and when you use that you said it makes you feel happy and this is obvious to you right? You feel it every day and you're doing what you need to do to improve your mood. So you can also start doing that when you kinda wanna pump yourself up again. Your favorite jacket is a red jacket, a red leather jacket with that fur collar. Again it makes sense based on what we know. It makes you feel better about yourself. You're wearing that beautiful blue. Again it's gonna lift your mood. For you it's the pattern, so kinda that excitement in the patterns where you find that energy, that interest. So we can use dress to change what we are feeling and we can assess what we're feeling based on what we're wearing. She did another great study looking at work attire and first impressions. And she noted that work abilities are immediately assessed based on appearance. What she found was that men who wore bespoke suits were assessed much more positively than men who wore off-the-rack suits. And women who wore skirt suits were assessed much more positively than those who wore pant suits. Now we look at another study and this is kind of another great study done. It's called Enclothed Cognition. It was done by Galinsky and they state that, it was Adam Galinsky. They stated that clothes put the wearer into a different psychological state. So, they put participants of a research study in a lab coat. They had them take a stroop test and the stroop test is a test of attention. So for instance, you would write the color yellow but you would write the color yellow in the color red. And then I would ask you, what is the color of that word? And you're like ah yellow, red no, red! Right so, it's attention test. Those wearers that wore the lab coat did better on the attention test than when they took another test of attention and they didn't wear it. We also know that those that wear that lab coat that were told it was a lab coat, did better than those who wore a coat, the same type of coat and were told it was a painter's coat and not only did they do better, but a person who was just standing near the coat, and they were takin' a test, they didn't do as well. So what does that tell you? There's a physical experience of wearing the coat that when a person physically wore the coat, they did better. Wearing the lab coat and the painter's coat versus the coat being kinda on the desk near them. The second part of this study is not just a physical feeling, but the associations we have to the item. We spoke about this earlier. When you know this coat is a lab coat, you're gonna do far better than when you think that coat is a painter's coat, because someone who works in a lab, obviously has to pay attention, right? So it's just the association versus the painter who maybe doesn't really care about this assessment. So it's really fascinating to see how it measurably-changed the way a person thought, the cognition, it's the attention, the memory, the concentration, that tested that. Now we look at dressing down. So opinions improve when we believe contrarian acts are different on purpose. So, researchers went to Milan and they met, went to Milan and this is done by Sylvia Bellasa and Company et al and they had shopkeepers in Milan assess a person who wore very fancy clothes versus a shopper who kinda wore, you know, loungy clothes. And the asked the shopkeepers, who's gonna spend more money? And the shopkeeper said what? No. They said the ones who don't care. The ones who wore the bummy clothes. Now the pedestrians, the other people on the street they believed, yes, that a person who dressed up was probably gonna spend more money than those who were dressed down, and the reason why the shopkeepers kind of assessed that, is because when somebody dresses down to go shopping, it's kind of a contrarian act. It's not something you would expect. But because the person felt comfortable doing the unexpected, they must have been able to afford what was in the store. And the reason why they knew that was 'cause they were in the group. They were sales associates. They knew that industry. They were actually doing it every day. Whereas pedestrians, we don't always really know how people are gonna shop. We don't see hundreds of shoppers coming in, so we're not really part of that group that knows buying behaviors, so most of us would say yeah, it's gonna be the person who spends more, 'cause we haven't worked in retail or we're not familiar with it or we haven't done it, you know, seen hundreds and hundreds of customers. But those that were within that group saw that contrarian act as something that really wouldn't change their shopping behaviors. In fact, they would even be more successful 'cause they can buy more. And this didn't just happen with shopping. It also happened with other dress behaviors. So when people were assessed, like professors and they were wearing either a tee shirt or they were kinda dressed up wearing a suit, students rated the professor that was kinda contrarian, the one that was wearing a tee shirt, as successful if not more successful than the one wearing the suit, because he must be really confident. He must really know his stuff. If he's in our in group and he could wear this suit, no I'm sorry. If he didn't wear the suit, right, that he must know what he's doing and he must feel comfortable with what he has what's he's taught, what he knows. Now when a person is seen as wearing eccentric dress and it looks like it's a mistake, the professor shows up in like clown suit or a tuxedo from the night before, the students are not gonna measure him as successful as the professor who kinda rolls out of bed then it kinda looks like he didn't make a mistake he just didn't really care that much. So we assess people when we think they're acting contrarian because they are taking risks versus those who have made a mistake. The ones who we think are making a mistake, not good. We usually do not rate them as highly. Okay, status symbols. So this is a really interesting one with logos. Women were asked to imagine men flirting imagine other women flirting with their man. And so the researchers made the participants jealous. Then they asked them to draw logos on a handbag. The women who felt jealous drew a larger logo than the women who were not made to feel jealous. Why is that? They believe that committed women use items to protect their mate. There is an assumption made that when people look at your items they think usually, and it's a snap judgment if you're carrying a handbag and other women see this as much as men, when we look at a handbag, we think, oh her boyfriend or her husband probably got that for her as a gift and if the logo is larger, then he must really love her and so I'm gonna stay away from her. So it's an immediate snap judgment. Men do it and women do it. Now when women were not jealous, the logos weren't as big. And when women were also made to feel jealous, they were also spending on more luxury items than they were when they were not jealous. So for whatever reason, we also buy things that are more luxury-oriented and the belief is that maybe we're trying to use it as a protective factor when we're jealous to make people think that our man really likes us and therefore he must have purchased this for us and we use it as a subconscious shield from other women. Single women also use logos and luxury items as well to keep other women away from future men. It's very subconscious. We don't even realize we're doing it, but they found that this is kinda what happened. So women are using luxury items to use a shield to protect their man. Men are using luxury items to show that they're successful. And they're using it to attract a mate. So women use luxury brands to often deter other women from being with their partner. Men use it to attract females primarily who would believe that they're therefore successful because they have luxury items. Again, it's something that just happens. Okay now we look at fashion flipped. So there are a couple of things that have happened. These are kind of trends that I'm seeing. One of the ones, athleisure then androgyny and transgender, and then also this concept of ugly fashion or scumbro. All right, so athleisure, have you all heard of athleisure? It's kind of everywhere and it's really interesting because I believe that it's often due, well let me explain what it is first. It's kind of athletic wear that's taken on like a mainstream. Maybe it's popular because it's kinda the last untapped area of fashion, where athletic wear usually was not fashionable at all. But now at least we can take it and make it fashionable and make some money from it right? So that may be why it's happening. I also think as we increase our exercise as a form of achievement, exercise has become part of the mainstream where is usually wasn't. Maybe it's then taken on mainstream designers. I also think that there is a blend and a blur between home life and work life and kind of all other activities. So as things kinda get ablur, you're more able to wear athleisure let's say, when you're working from home or when you're kind of teleworking, things like that. So you can kind of wear more casual clothes. I think that our society has become far more casual in what we wear in the workplace, so this has become more acceptable. I just heard about, not too long ago, pants that you can wear as business pants but they're also kind of athletic pants as well as yoga pants, so they can do everything. It's like the ultimate in functionality. So I also think there's kind of technology enables rapid sharing and one of the things that we enjoy is comfort, right? And so fashion is no longer coming from the top down. We're not getting our fashion advice from designers to the street. Designers are now getting information from the street and they're taking it up to the design houses. So we're informing fashion because I think of technology and social media. Okay. The other piece is the androgyny and transgender in our fashion. So androgyny is the blending between the male and the female. Andro which is male, gyny female. So as there's blending between what is female and what is male, we're seeing that in the runways and we're seeing that in the products we can buy. And then when we look at transgender, I think there's more of an increase in awareness with transgender and you'll find that men are feeling like they identify as females and you might see them on the runway, see them in makeup ads and then vice versa. So there's again, this gray area, this blending between what is masculine and what is feminine and why not do both? Why not have males and females with the same items? Why not have females wearing more masculine attire? Why not have men wearing more feminine attire? So you think of like men in skirts, and things like that. All right. The last one of this is ugly fashion or scumbro. So anti-fashion has become fashionable and fashion is attacking itself to remain relevant. So you're starting to see that, you know, fashion is also cyclical. So as things change and we kind of saturate one specific idea, then we move on to the next one and some of the like uncharted areas of our fashion is this kind of anti-fashion or scumbro. And I think that's one of the reasons why we're seeing it. I also think we're seeing it because as we're getting greater exposure to things, through social media, again fashion is no longer coming from the fashion house to the street, so Dior is not informing us of a new look anymore like they once did. We're now getting the street informing fashion houses. We're telling them what they want and if they want to make a profit and stay relevant and stay open, they have to give us what we want and we tell them what we want. So I think this is also another interesting movement. And scumbro is kind of, it's for males mainly. And it's oversized, overpriced sweaters, graphic tee shirts, kind of shoes that are over-the-top, crazy hats, but they're usually in very expensive brands. So super-expensive brands are making these wacky outfits and that's what we call scumbro. And labels such as like Gucci, Prada and Versace are doing it, but it's deliberately-made to look terrible. So just to quote The Guardian, they just did the most recent article. It says, "oversized, overpriced skate wear, obscure graphic tee shirts, ridiculous shoes and even more ridiculous hats, they're also wearing wildly-expensive labels such as Gucci, Versace and Prada, but deliberately to make them look terrible." Okay. The next one is fashion and technology. So we look at exposure. Technology's having a major influence on fashion. When we look at exposure, we are able to share all of our IMs all the time. Not just designers, but us. The regular people right? And we can see what the other's wearing 24/7. And we can have a conversation about what we're wearing to create new trends in fashion. And I don't just have to talk to you within my small radius, I can talk to anybody across the world at any time. So the understanding of what is fashionable is probably gonna shift. I also think that when designers are able to livestream fashion shows, that changes the rapidity with which they come up with their new seasons. So you know there used to only be like two seasons in fashion and now it's rapid. Seasons and trends are changing really quickly and I think that's because we can communicate it so fast. We get saturated. We're over it. It's boring and then we move onto the next one. And I think there's also greater competition, so because anyone can design and show their clothes now. Who's to say that some designer, you know, from from an obscure place who has no training or is being trained, they can have fashion shows from their internet, just as easily as Marc Jacobs who's wearing his kilt, we talked about the skirt, he wore the skirt. Just as easily as another designer might post their designs. I also think it's interesting to look at when we want things immediately. So it's not okay anymore for us to have remember when we first learned about fashion, it was really the industry people that were exposed to fashion. Then they were brought to the market and it took some time. There was some major lag time. That lag time now is gone. Okay we also look at design. So we talked about like 3D printing of fashion. There's greater programs that allow for greater options in fashion. It changes the materials we might use. Customers can use programs to accurately measure their bodies. We can even use, Spotify's using, we can look at our Spotify data and see what kind of fashion we want based on our music, so it's really interesting to see how we're designing clothes based on technology. Purchase. Stores can track your shopping habits. They can track what you're doing online. They can track what's left in your cart. Have you ever had that where like all of a sudden you get a pop up and you're like ah. Why does this keep coming up? Coupons will randomly appear in your inbox. When you're in the store, a person can track you when you walk in the store. They can track how long you look at an item and how much interest you have. They can track what spaces you spend the most time in. They can also track what you buy. Okay kind of frightening, but in a way, it's great for the shopper 'cause we're gonna get coupons and things like that. There's also ads so if you've ever opened up like any of your major social media applications, there's always the ad of something that you've looked at or there's an article that might speak to something that you've spent a lot of time looking at. So there are algorithms that are used to collect data and used to create fashion that you will most likely buy and you will keep. And also not just new clothing. We can buy and keep clothing that's used. All over the world now, through eBay, Craigslist and things like that. Okay the next thing with fashion and technology is the assembling. We can receive feedback internationally. We can post online, what do you think of my outfit? Have you ever seen those pictures of people in the dressing rooms? And they're like, should I buy this? You know really there's a conversation between us and our environment now. I don't have to turn to somebody in the professional field of fashion if I don't want to, I can actually ask my peers and get feedback. We can also catalog items in our closet, so seeing what we wear, what we don't, what is repeated, what is not and we can also track our outfits, so seeing what was most popular, what people liked, things like that. So it's kinda I think technology has already changed the face of fashion but I think it's gonna be even more.

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!