Class Introduction - Psychology of Dress Principles and Parameters
We are gonna be talking about how to improve your wardrobe to improve your life. And so in today's segment, we're gonna be looking at the connection between the external, which is your wardrobe, and the internal, which is those thoughts and feelings that you carry around with you. So, you know we often dismiss our wardrobe behaviors as frivolous. You know, I might ask somebody, why did you choose to wear what you wore today, and they may say, oh this old thing, it just, it was whatever fit. Or I'll ask somebody, why did you buy this? Well I just needed something to wear for this event so I just picked out whatever worked for that day. But there's a lot more to our wardrobe behaviors than what we see on the surface. And then, you know, as with any behaviors, whether it's your relationship behaviors, your eating behaviors, your exercise behaviors, sexual behaviors, work behaviors, these behaviors often have internal inner workings or internal motivations and if we can learn a little bit ...
about those things that are driving our behaviors, we might be able to improve the behaviors, but more importantly, improve what's going on underneath. Those thoughts and emotions. So, I am a clinical psychologist and I do work with a clinical population, but I also examine how our dress behaviors, how we acquire, how we assemble, how we store and organize, and how we remove our clothes as an indicator of something deeper. So this class, really, is meant to trigger some greater change. So our wardrobe, I feel like, is a microcosm for the larger life. If we can change something as simple as what we wear, which seemingly has no great meaning, then we might be able to trigger more changes in something that's larger and so that's really what we're gonna be doing today. So the first thing we're gonna look at is Psychology of Dress Principles and Parameters. And we're just gonna learn the general understanding of what we do here. So, who am I and why am I the person for this job? Well as I said, I am a clinical psychologist. I work and specialize in patients with mood, anxiety, drug and alcohol use disorders, as well as psychotic disorders. I'm also a research specialist in increasing exercise adherence among children with obesity and adults with obesity and finally, I also have done program developments for various institutions and places to use psychology in a wellness way. So I'm also an author. I wrote the book, "You Are What You Wear: What Your Clothes Reveal About You" and I'm currently working on a second book, "Examining Our Consumer Behaviors" and consumption being defined as anything we hope to possess that ends up possessing us. And then I also do wardrobe analysis. So I'm the owner of the business Inside Out and in this business, I look at our dress behaviors and what they might mean internally. So what is this thing? What is this thing called Inside Out or the psychology of dress? Well before I answer that question, I wanna know if there's anybody who's willing to answer that question for me, what is the psychology of dress stuff, what does it mean to you? And does anybody feel comfortable, you know, who is coming to this class today, who is participating in this class today, what they hope to find or what they thought this concept meant to them? Yes?
It's just how you present yourself? Sometimes you don't think about it. But, I would like to learn more about how important that could be.
And again, I talked earlier about, that we often discount the importance of that. But why wouldn't it have importance? How we choose to present ourselves to the world is very important, and in fact, people do assess us based very quickly on what we look like. We would hate to think that as the truth, but it is. So let us use it to our advantage. So what is this thing called the psychology of dress behaviors? I was gonna start from the beginning. I was always interested in fashion and style and specifically how people dress. When I was very little, I had the wonderful opportunity to become very close to my grandmother and my grandmother worked in the fashion industry. And I loved going into her closet because, of course she had some fantastic phenomenal clothes and so I looked through her closet and I would talk to her about what she wore and what it meant and you know, I just thought I was just learning about the clothing and the fabrics and the designers and things like that. She worked in a time when designers would actually have runway shows in the stores. So it was pretty fantastic to hear about the designers that she was able to meet and the customers and the clients that she worked with. So when I was talking to her about the closet, I noticed that the answers that she gave me had nothing to do with the clothing. The answers that she gave me actually had everything to do about her life. What was going on at the time. What she was feeling, what she was thinking. What her hopes and dreams were. Who she was with. It was only my grandfather, she was very much in love with him and he was her honey, but I got to learn more about her honey, my grandpa, because of these stories. So I realized that this closet, these clothes on a rack kinda were like a timeline that you might make when you're in fifth grade or sixth grade and you create these timelines with these little punctuated squares that tell different parts of history. Well her closet illustrated that for me. That I was able to see that each clothing item represented something in her life that had happened. And of course, the clothes that she kept had even greater meaning. That she may not have worn anymore, but again, they held, they were the capsule for things that were deeper. I also had another experience with my grandmother, she had a button collection. And when she was working in fashion, buttons were amazing. They were really like jewels. They were like pieces of art, sculptures. So, I was able to go through the buttons with her and each button, similar to the clothing, had a story. Of course these buttons were great because I could hold them in my hand and physically experience the button. But I could talk to her about what her life was like, what she was wearing, what it meant. So that is where I learned that there was an obvious connection between what we wear and what else is going on. And that's where it really solidified, for me, although I didn't have the words at a very young age to express what it was I was seeing, I knew that something else was important here and that this was something I was interested in and I wanted to learn further. So I started to look at people in a different way because of this experience. Because I always had an interest in dress behaviors and dressing others, I kind of informally and casually would dress people, and then I, when I was in grad school becoming a psychologist, I worked at Ralph Lauren and I noticed that there was this kind of connection between what I was learning in school as a psychologist and what I was doing with the clients in the dressing rooms at Ralph Lauren that the things that were coming out, clinically, the things that I was learning about how to help people with, on a more surface level, not a clinical or heavy diagnostic level, there were things that, often women, those were my clients, would talk about. Like they didn't feel good with their body or they were uncomfortable because they were going from being a stay-at-home mom to going back into the workforce and they felt nervous about that and what they might wear. Women who were getting older and they weren't quite sure what to wear as their bodies changed and the understanding, societies understanding of what they were because of their age. I also worked with younger girls. Girls that are more transition from school to the work force, so I had all these different layers that I was examining and that is how I came up with putting together psychology and the dress behaviors. So that's where it comes from. So who do I help? I primarily help individuals, clients that I might work with who come to me and wanna know the questions about what they wear and why they wear it. I also, again, look at the internal and external, trying to create a bridge between the two and change the external to prompt greater change in the internal. And I use the outfits, almost like an actor might use a costume, where I'm helping them become what they wanna become with their costume, their wardrobe. I also work with groups of people and that's the sociological component. So I'm examining trends, why people are wearing what they're wearing, what they might be buying and why, so I'm examining kinda the climate of dress behaviors in a group. I also wanna let you know, when I'm working with a client, I'm usually working with, as I said, individual. In a group way, I'm working with brands, companies, and then I'm also working with the media. And again, looking at trends and things like that is a big one. And we'll go into that more about how I use that with research. So what is it not? This is a big one here. This is where I put on my serious psychologist hat. There's a term that's been thrown around quite a bit, fashion psychology. I do not use that word, very specifically. There is no such recognized discipline as fashion psychology. As a psychologist, I'm ethically bound to recognize those disciplines that are recognized by, in this case, the American Psychological Association. If it is not recognized, I don't use the term as a profession. Those professions that have been developed, again, are followed by a psychological association. There's usually a journal of that name. There's some kind of licensure process that is used, as well as continuing education. So there's no such field in psychology as fashion psychology. It's not to say that psychologists are adverse to this study. I have worked with the APA talking about this concept, but we don't call it a discipline that is called fashion psychology. Another term that's throw around a lot, is fashion psychologist. Number one, don't call yourself a psychologist if you're not. And there are a lot of people that are saying they are psychologists when they are not. So we have to be very careful. Again, with a psychologist, there's a certain amount of education. There's licensure. There's post-doc training. There's continuing education. And then we throw in the fashion psychologist piece, there is not an existing fashion psychologist career that is followed by a psychological organization like the APA, so I don't use those terms. And you'll find that a lot of clinicians will not use those terms.