What do your clothes reveal about you?

Thales of Miletus, a Greek philosopher, once said, “The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself.” For most of us, it feels like an impossible task. How can we know a self that is forever in flux; a complex tapestry of experiences, influences and thoughts forever being woven, shaping who we are?

For as long as I can remember, finding an answer to the question “Who am I?” has been my fascination, my obsession.

As a young girl, I realised that perhaps the best way to understand that complex tapestry was not to try to look behind it, but to look at the tapestry itself – the clothes we wear.

Why, in a world of infinite choices, we pick certain items of clothing to wear as an extension of ourselves is one of the most powerful and overlooked tools we can use to understand our motivations, self-limiting beliefs, fears and dreams.

Clothing is never superficial. It’s the skin we choose, consciously and subconsciously. The oversized black T-shirt reveals that we feel like hiding, the sparkly shoes signal hope, the conservative blazer speaks of our desire to be taken seriously and to fit in.

More than pieces of fabric, clothing is the physical manifestation of our current circumstances and mental state. As historian James Laver noted: “Clothes are never a frivolity; they always mean something” and “They are nothing less than the furniture of the mind made visible.”

A desire to help people better understand themselves and each other through their clothing choices is why I wrote my books How to Tell a Man by His Shoes and How to Tell a Woman by Her Handbag. I’ve travelled the world, sharing the secret language of clothing and doing readings for everyone from British royalty and Hollywood celebrities to everyday people like you and me.

Open your wardrobe right now and, more than garments hanging in a closet, you will see your life story: the dress from that disastrous first date; that navy suit from your successful job interview; your leather pants from that rebellious phase; your “giving up” tracksuit phase; your renewed-hope bandage-dress phase.


But rather than reading it retrospectively, wouldn’t it be fantastic to understand where you are right now – to check in with yourself during the daily act of getting dressed and ask, “Why do I feel restricted when I put
on this tie?” Or, “Why am I drawn to elastic waistbands even though lockdown is long over?”

When we ask ourselves, “Does this shirt reflect the best parts of me?” or “Do these mum jeans align with the hopes I have for my life, or are they simply a reaction to life?” we come closer to self-knowledge and can finally create the next chapter and take ownership of our own narrative.

That’s the bold social experiment undertaken in my new television
show, Undressed. In the series, I meet people from all walks of life and do
a “reading” of their clothes, telling them who I see. It’s confronting but also comforting, because it’s a chance for people to really be seen, often for the first time. And I do it by looking at the “clothing clues” they are wearing. We then invite people to articulate their vision for their life, and we set about transforming them from the outside in.

Together we explore the symbolic meaning behind an item of clothing, and the physical experience of wearing the clothing, along with how it makes the person feel – a process known in fashion psychology as Enclothed Cognition. We all have associations that make our clothing choices personal, but there are universal themes that can help us identify blocks being expressed sartorially.

Repetitious wardrobe complex

Psychologist Ian Newby-Clark points out that we are creatures of habit. The human mind seeks routine and ritual, often performing hundreds of behavioural patterns each day. For many, those habits are expressed through an almost “out-of-body experience” of getting dressed, reaching for the same pair of jeans or blazer day after day.

While this may make getting dressed easy, it becomes an issue when the fashion habit you’ve formed isn’t expressing the best version of yourself to the world. Think about how you feel each day when you leave the house. Do you feel empowered? Are the reactions of the people you have professional and personal relationships with aligning with your desires and goals?

If the answer is no, you need to bring awareness back to getting dressed. As unnatural as might feel, you must consciously challenge yourself to break those limiting habits by dressing in a new way that aligns with your vision.

Defensive dressing

Clothing has been turned into armour throughout recorded history as a means of helping humans protect themselves from injury, from Tankō helmets worn by Japanese foot soldiers as early as the 4th century to the plated armour worn by the knights of the late Middle Ages.

But clothing as armour doesn’t just protect against bodily harm. People often dress in a “weaponised” or “protective” way to shield themselves from emotional harm. Celebrities who are post-breakup or in the midst of public scrutiny will frequently opt for a “tougher” aesthetic – leather, studs, spikes, even tattoos and piercings.

When we suffer emotional distress or feel vulnerable, I believe we subconsciously turn to “tough” fabrics, oversized jackets, thick-soled shoes
and other protective clothing to create a barrier between ourselves and the world. Our clothing clues say “Stay away”, even though what many people actually seek is closeness.

Invisible dressing


Raised in a society that sends the message that thin is beautiful and
that we should take up as little space as possible, the oversized black T-shirt is often the uniform of those who seek to be invisible. As a result, I’ve noticed that people who don’t feel comfortable with their weight or position in life often turn to dark, loose-fitting clothes, trying to hide behind them.

In Undressed, my goal is to help people regain their confidence, accept themselves exactly as they are, and use fashion to be seen again, most notably by themselves. To take up more space in their life.

Time-capsule dressing

As in any autobiography, we all have chapters in our lives that are happier than others, moments that feel full of promise. We can get stuck dressing the same way at any age, but studies suggest this often occurs between the ages of 18 and 24 and is commonly connected to an affinity with the music of the time. Like a broken record playing on repeat, this fashion “glitch” prevents us from embracing the contemporary version of ourselves.

This not only dates us, it sends a subconscious signal to the wearer that their best days are behind them. The way through this is to ask: “Who am I now? What do I want for my life now?” Then, having done so, to clothe yourself in a way that sends the message that you are living for the here and now.

Dopamine dressing

Research shows that when women feel depressed, they are more likely to dress in loose-fitting clothing and jeans because dressing to look your best isn’t a priority. Research also suggests that we’re more drawn to bright colours when we feel happy. The great news is that we can reverse-engineer this, and that consciously steering ourselves towards more optimistic, better-tailored clothing can have a positive impact on the way we think and feel.

Rather than dreading the unavoidable act of getting dressed, I endeavour to show that it can be a joyous and powerful tool for self-expression, a means of deciding who you want to be and, finally, dressing to look the part.

Undressed premieres on Paramount+ on Thursday, October 6.

Make the most of your health, relationships, fitness and nutrition with our Live Well newsletter. Get it in your inbox every Monday.

Source link

Denial of responsibility! insideheadline is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.