How to make the right clothing choices
Not having anything to wear boils down to not having a supportive wardrobe for your lifestyle. Who else struggles with looking in your wardrobe and thinking… “Nothing feels right’ or ‘Nothing suits me’ or ‘I hate my clothes!’ Many people find that their clothing choices are often fraught with disaster and as such avoid shopping, or leave it up to someone else and never feel comfortable in what they wear.
If you pick up something which does not resonate with what you truly like or want in life, then it will forever remain an orphan. A piece in your wardrobe which goes with nothing else, a piece of clothing that fills you with buyers remorse. A constant reminder that you wasted your money. It does not fit in with your personal values.
Values are those core-beliefs that frame our world. They motivate us to act in a particular way and can be an indicator of our behaviour and the way we will make decisions. We learn our values through exposure to our culture, social groupings, family and friends, and also from the information that is presented to us by the media in all its forms. When you prioritise values you can form a hierarchy of the values that are most important to you. Our values often conflict with each other e.g. a career woman must prioritise her values between caring for her family and wanting to achieve success in the workplace. Values conflicts occur throughout society, within families, organisations, companies and governments.
Image Master Judith Rasband maintains that values may also conflict with or take priority over personality traits and personal style.
Research has established that generally, your clothing choices and values are consistent with your everyday life values, meaning that the same of the hierarchy of values that direct, inspire or drive your choices in life may also affect your clothing choices. To become aware of the values that are important to you means that you will better choose, clothing that reflects those values.
‘A Study of Values’ was a 1960 study reported by Gordon W. Allport, Philip E. Vernon, and Gardner Lindzey, where they discussed research carried out by psychologist Eduard Spranger. This study identified six dominant values types or orientations as general guides to help in understanding people and their clothing choices. This study showed that there was a hierarchy in these choices which corresponded to their values hierarchy. Spranger’s six value types include; Economic, Aesthetic, Political, Social, Religious, and Theoretical.
A.M. Creekmore (1963) used the six to develop measures of clothing values, adding two more types of values that relate well to clothing; Sensory and Exploratory. Judith Rasband used these value types and translated them into clothing values. After working with hundreds of clients I needed to expand the 8 even further. I have reworked and expanded these 8 types to 12 types which are:
If you plan to understand yourself better you must understand why you make the clothing choices you do about to be able to understand what you saying and how. Identifying values types, particularly the 12 mentioned in the study above, will guide your understanding of yourself and other people.
In an earlier post, I have outlined and explained the various clothing personalities that we can reflect. When you put the two together you get a really clear impression of who you are, what you like and what you need. For me, when I am consulting with a client at this stage, my greatest dilemma is if the shop will have this person’s size? As I know now what will make their mind and body look and feel great.
So let’s look at each value individually. Do the quiz to discover your values
You love the beauty of design and harmony. You are expressive and this is revealed in your clothing choices. You focus on beautiful clothing and wonderful styles, colours, textures and patterns: On its own cost is not an issue. The message you send out is that beauty and total harmony is the most important. you will be recognised for your harmonious, elegant, well designed and colourful garments. Be cautious as you may overlook construction in your clothing in favour of beauty. You will enjoy shopping and delight in finding something that looks gorgeous in your eyes.
You are reflective in your values. Generally speaking, you pay no attention to clothing and are interested in other topics such as world peace, politics and social injustices are much more important. Clothes do not matter and you tend to wear anything just to cover up. The intellectual mind is your focus and you feel that clothing and those who are interested in fashion are superficial. You can be quick to criticise anyone who shows an interest in fashion over current local and world affairs.
You are individual, artistic, creative and like to think outside the square. You focus on the unique or unusual and will explore options and experiment in your dress. You like wearable art because creativity is very important. People will recognise this value because you want to add your own touch of flair to an outfit. You wear an unusual mix of colours and textures in a unique combination of styles using hand woven or hand printed designs. You hate shopping centres and the usual stores that everyone shops at. You will have your favourites tucked away in strip shops as opposed to wearing or buying anything mass produced.
You are practical and frugal with money as well as your time, space and energy. You like things to be functional, useful and do not want anything wasted. Your focus is on bargains and sales, you want the very best for the least cost and like to comparative shop. It is important for you to buy clothes that last a long time and conserve the environment. You want to know that what you buy will have longevity so you may prefer more classic styles. You will buy clothing that is versatile so capsule wardrobes will be important to you and you want to know that it is durable. Cheap clothing may not necessarily impress you if it does not wash and wear well.
Influential people are into power, authority and leadership. Your influence is important to you and you dress to enhance your credibility. Your focus is on dressing to influence and influence others. The message you send is that your appearance and image is of the highest importance. Your appearance is sophisticated and understated. Many can see this as a negative value. I, however, find it is imperative for managers to have this as a value. Especially if they intend to be successful in their career.
For the modest person, you wish to hide your body for religious or personal reasons. You will avoid clingy, revealing clothing that is short or low. If this choice is based in religion, then the next two elements will reveal the style of clothing you might wear at home or under your outer garments.
You are very sensory. Your skin and possibly your hearing is very sensitive. You focus on the feel and fit of the fabric, you like unstructured and stretch fabrics. It is important for you to feel comfortable in your clothes. You will wear clothing that skims your body. You may not like wearing wool if you find it scratches or irritates you. If sound is one of your areas of sensitivity you will never wear anything which makes noise as you walk. Before you even think about trying anything on you will rub the fabric between your fingers to see if it feels good.
Simplicity can be interpreted as very simple design lines and a very uncluttered appearance. The element of simplicity will also be explored through clean lines and simple design and clothing structure. You will prefer styles which are neither fussy nor overly accessorised. You will be a statement person when it comes to accessories and will often prefer plain to print.
Social people are focused on their peers. You like everybody to fit in and to feel at ease and you want to “belong” to your social group. Your focus is on conformity to significant others, to be like your peers and not to be perceived as dressing better or different. It is important to you to put others at ease and be part of the team. You will find that you follow the fashion direction of your peers so it might be that you wear the latest fad fashions or follow the styles of those in your network. Wearing uniform will not worry you if your friends are wearing it too. When it comes to dressing for a social event you want to make sure you are dressing like everyone else who is attending.
Your image is highly important to you and you want to be noticed by others. You are impressed by labels and celebrity endorsements. Rather than buying what the celebrities are paid to wear you will wear what they chose away from the spotlight or away from the marketing hype of any product. You will want to wear the best and if you can’t afford the best, imitation will do, as long as no one can tell the difference. You will spend your last penny on looking good or buying the right designer bag, shoe or outfit. If not all three. You will scan the internet to get fashion updates before they hit the mainstream and you will read the upmarket fashion art magazines to know what is happening and who is wearing what before the mass media knows. You are a style leader and a trend setter.
You are concerned with the authenticity of a garment. You look for fair trade items, sustainable farming and manufacture of raw fibres and garment construction. Nothing from a sweat shop, or from anywhere where the animals are mistreated, the environment is poisoned, soiled or ravaged. You don’t mind paying the price for quality real fabrics and will check labels for fibre content, care instructions and anything else which can direct you to making a meaningful selection of the garment.
You value your purchases being versatile. When you purchase anything it must go with at least 3 other pieces in your wardrobe or it is a waste of your money. You can get paralysed by indecision if you cannot see the options in a garment before you purchase it and can end up buying multiple of the same thing as you know that they ‘work’ with your wardrobe. To ensure that you do not end up with a wardrobe of orphans, prints have the most versatility in tops and dresses for women and shirts and ties for men.
To understand your own preferences there is a way of reading through all 10 outlines and coming up with your top 3. I then amalgamate these together to give an outline to discovering exactly who you are.
If you would like to know what your three top values say about you and your style do this quiz here.
Over the coming weeks, I’ll explain how each of the 7 personalities exhibit these values in their dressing.
This is also a great exercise I can run for your staff, conference or social group activity. It is a fun and exciting way to discover the differences and similarities that exist in any group
When you can define exactly what it is that you value in life and your clothing choices you will make much better informed decisions. You will have a wardrobe full of clothing that you know truly reflects who you are and you will feel more in control of your appearance, your life and how others see you.