Our clothing choices say a lot about us, and with awareness we have control over the messages we are giving out. Most of the time, how you are perceived is probably not a matter of life and death. Yet there are plenty of occasions when it could be beneficial to convey a certain message through your attire. Whether others are aware of it or not, they quickly form impressions when meeting you for the first time, and a large part of this is down to what you wear. Such impressions will also be cemented if you have a habitual way of dressing.
Obviously there will be days when you’ll throw on the nearest garments within reach, and you might even nip to the supermarket like that. Those clothing choices probably don’t give an accurate representation of who you really are, but under those circumstances, who cares? Sometimes practicality prevails, and sometimes it absolutely should… but really, if your clothing choices are always motivated by practicality, that says something about you too!
Practicality aside, it doesn’t take a lot to become more aware of what you are expressing through clothing. Here are some things you may want to consider when deciding what to wear each day:
What you wear each day can send a message about your emotional and mental states, the kind of work you do, what ambitions you have, and your spending habits. If you’re always dripping with designer logos, this might come across as a need to be seen as wealthy or cool, for instance. However, it’s possible to over-egg this. There’s nothing wrong with sporting the logo of a favorite brand, but when every other garment or accessory obviously promotes a brand, this conveys a message that you’re trying hard to be seen a certain way.
Personal style works best when it appears effortless – when it seems that you know what suits you, rather than going only off what big name designers say is fashionable. Then again, when you give very little thought to coordinating your outfits, you might be perceived as not really caring about how you look.
We’re not trying to encourage you toward excessive vanity, but it’s arguably true that when no consideration or effort is made (e.g. when colors or fabrics are mismatched, or clothing is tired or damaged), it could be construed that you’re not in a great mental or emotional state.
Actually, clothing not only affects your mood; it can also be largely determined by it. We may not be consciously aware of what color choices say about us, but subconscious associations are very common, according to psychological studies.
Here is a rough guide to what color choices can indicate:
- Black: Seriousness, power, intelligence, prestige, ambitiousness, pragmatism
- White: Freedom, purity, innocence, simplicity, reliability, optimism, organization
- Brown: Earthiness, strength, reliability, conservativeness, peacefulness, stability
- Orange: Cheerfulness, creativity, warmth, playfulness, restlessness, energy
- Red: Boldness, liveliness, passion, power, intensity, persuasiveness, confidence
- Blue: Confidence, reliability, tranquility, trustworthiness, efficiency, intelligence
- Green: Pleasantness, peacefulness, contentment, activeness, kindness, wisdom
- Purple: Creativeness, intuition, emotion, sensitivity, passion, mysticism, dreaminess
- Yellow: Happiness, energy, attentiveness, adventurousness, creativity
- Gray: Balance, introversion, maturity, tranquility, neutrality
Vibrant colors can indicate extroversion, excitability, forthrightness and movement, whereas pastel colors might indicate calmness, introversion and peacefulness. Each day before you get dressed, have a think about what you’re drawn to and what that says about your mood. If you want to change your mood or message, choose colors according to your intention.
For many people, dressing becomes habitual. They have an idea what suits them so they stick with it indefinitely. What makes a poor clothing choice? Something that actually hides who you are or tries to overcompensate for an aspect of yourself you’re unhappy with. For example, someone uncomfortable with ageing may dress in clothes designed for people in their 20s, when they’re actually in their 40s. This is usually quite apparent to others. The same goes for somebody in their 30s who dresses as if they were in their 50s. This might indicate a lack of confidence or a formal mentality.
When somebody feels unsexy and goes out of their way to dress provocatively - even when it doesn’t suit the occasion – it can look like desperation for attention, regardless of the source; it could also be perceived as lack of social skills or awareness. If you hate shopping (or don’t have time) so throw on the same clothes you’ve been wearing for the last five years (no matter how well they fit)… well, it’s likely to come across as if you don’t have much interest in aesthetics.
This may not matter to you, which is fine, but if you’re looking to attract a partner it might be worth thinking about – especially if you’re hoping for a well-presented partner. If you don’t pay attention to your body shape or size, your age or the social situations you’re in, people will notice. It can help to choose what you wear according to your goals… Perhaps asking a personal stylist to help you choose clothes that suit your body shape and size will also help.
Sometimes people stick to neutral outfits because they don’t have the confidence to wear the kind of things they admire on others. They may prefer to ‘play it safe’, avoiding accessories that could garner attention. This can come across as an avoidance of individuality, or a desire to remain invisible, which might translate to a lack of self-esteem.
If you don’t like attention, no problem… but if you don’t want to fade into the background quite so much, you can Transform your look with accessories alone. This doesn’t only apply to women, either; men might add dimensions to their outfits with hats, scarves, bags, jewelry and cufflinks, for example. Accessorizing is a great way of keeping things fresh, and it can also save you spending a ridiculous amount of dollars on new clothes all the time. Sometimes the slightest deviation from routine is enough to freshen your mood and self-image. A few seasonal accessories can make you feel so much more ‘seen’, and that energy will be obvious.
Ultimately, you need to feel comfortable in what you wear, and this should always be a priority. In fact, the XOH!DNAIR apparel range has been designed with comfort in mind! Even if you don’t feel comfortable with drastic changes, you can still explore within the parameters of your comfort zone. Expression is personal, but if you’re at all concerned with what you’re expressing, it’s useful to become aware of what motivates your day-to-day choices. From there, you can make mindful choices aligned with what you want to convey.