Dressing against the norm — What does it say about you?

Dressing against the norm — what does it say about you?

From eccentric socks to dressing against our gendered expectations, many people push the limits of social norms when it comes to fashion. Research has shown that non-conformists can be viewed as being of a higher status and more competent than those who follow the rules of fashion. We take a look at what different clothing says about the wearer…

Against gendered expectations

The line is becoming increasingly blurred between male and female clothing. Many people are speaking up, opposing the ideas that men and women should be dressed according to their sex. But, are you presenting yourself in a different way when you dress against the gendered expectations?

Although fashionistas are saying that they don’t agree with gender rules, some research suggests that we’re still stuck in our old ways. Psychologists in New Jersey found that attitudes towards gender stereotypes hadn’t changed much between 1983 and 2014.

There is an argument that shows that it’s favourable for women to cross the gender barrier but perhaps not men. Back in 1990, it was found that — despite the sex of the applicant – if the clothing that they wore was more masculine, they were more likely to be hired. When men dressed in pink however (a colour commonly associated with females), they were seen as less intelligent than women who were wearing the same colour.

Eccentric wear

Another way of going against the grain when it comes to style it through eccentric clothing. When we think of outrageous outfits we may think of people with brightly coloured hair, patterned clothing and over the top jewellery. But, there are other ways to express freedom through dress.

For example, people who wear unconventional socks are viewed as being rebellious and expressive. One of these people is Justin Trudeau, the current Prime Minister of Canada, who shows off his fun side by wearing funky socks with a traditional suit. You can make your own subtle ‘eccentric’ changes through patterned socks by CT shirts, online retailers of men’s formal shirts and accessories. Or make yourself stand out from the crowd through bright scarves and other extras.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

By dressing against the norms, studies have shown that you build a brand of being ‘gutsy’. And in fact, people have the potential to see you as more brilliant, creative and successful. One study, published in 2014, found that those who go against conformity can be viewed as of a higher status than those who don’t. They were also considered to be more competent — potentially influencing the impression that they give off in the workplace.

Not only does it affect people’s perceptions of you but it can also affect the way you think, feel and act — this is through ‘embodied cognition’. Since eccentric dress gives you greater potential to express your individuality, it’s possible that it can make you feel more confident and comfortable in different situations. This could then go on to improve your performance at work or in challenges where you want to push yourself.

Against the dress code

In some situations, for a job interview perhaps, it can be argued that dressing in accordance with expectations is the best thing to do.

Under some circumstances, we think that people with extraordinary appearances are more successful.

Men who wear smart, fitted suits as they are often expected to wear in a formal situation, were perceived as being more confident, successful and thought to be earning a higher wage. This was compared to men who weren’t dressed as smartly — in a loosely fitted suit.

In one study that looked at the effects of clothing, it was found that senior managers were rated less favourably if they were dressed more ‘provocative’. This was a skirt slightly above the knee and one button on the blouse undone. It’s clear to see that it is important to consider our dress style carefully as people can make many assumptions without any evidence.

In some environments, wearing your set uniform can improve your productivity. Research found that in a lab, those who were wearing lab coats felt smarter and went on to perform better!

As we can see, dressing against societies expectations can have many effects on the opinion of others and your own performance. Although it’s important to express yourself through dress, you don’t want to hinder your work or your impression on others in formal situations. Wear a pair of crazy socks underneath your day-to-day outfit instead.

 

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Happy New You!

I recently met up for breakfast with my brother in my home town of Okehampton, West Devon. We met in The White Hart hotel, a 17th century coaching inn, now converted into a J D Wetherspoon pub and hotel.

The buildings history is tastefully honoured with a decent collection of nostalgic photos and paintings including the town and surrounding area. We were trying to pinpoint the year of a particular black and white street scene of Okehampton when I saw a lady in the foreground of the picture.

She was wearing a white buttoned up three quarter length dress, a neat collar and short capped sleeves with a fitted waist and a pattern around the hem. A pair of cream courts, a matching bag and her hair was styled in a neat flipped bob.

I shouted out ‘‘It’s the 60’s’’ like a crazed pub quizzer.

And then we saw the date. 1960.

What struck me, is that it took a dress and a particular time in fashion to pinpoint the age of the photo. Not from looking at the cars, buses or buildings, but a simple cotton dress.

Whether you were born during these times or not, most of us recognise something from the fashion eras of the 1940’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s and many of us will have a favourite style from those times. Any one of these eras is always a great excuse for a fancy-dress party too!

The styles of these times stood out not only for their individuality, but were clear signposts and maps to what was happening socially and politically in the country and around the world.

The wartime rationing of food and clothing in the 1940’s literally forced fashion into slimmer silhouettes using cheaper and less material. Tights and stockings would be a thing of the past as women learnt to ‘draw’ on their back seams or go without.

This all changed with the end of war in 1947. Christian Dior showed 90 creations to an audience in Paris. The skirts and dresses used huge amounts of material with equal quantities of netting underneath. It was the famous Bar jacket and full pleated skirt that epitomised what was coined The New Look. It marked the end of rationing and the doom and gloom of war and gave way to a booming time in fashion as well as in dance and music.

Fashion nowadays is a massed produced affair and there are few ‘stand-out’ moments when a new fashion season comes around and lets face it, there are only so many ways you can design another cotton t-shirt.

With charity shops in almost every town and city in the UK, it is not hard to pick up a bargain and a a complete outfit while supporting a charity or two and you will often find original pieces from way-back-when.

On top of that, you are helping to recycle the burgeoning clothes mountain we already have.

Would you like a new look?

Are you are overwhelmed or lost in the fashion jungle? Then get in touch with me today and find out how you can update your style, wardrobe and image in three easy steps!

Wishing you all a very happy, healthy and stylish 2018!

Clem Onojeghuo

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Out Of The Blue!

It is usually my job to pick out clothing for others’ on personal shopping trips around Munich. It’s nice for a change when the tables are turned. This usually happens when I go shopping with my Mum. We were walking around the beautiful seaside town of Sidmouth in Devon, England when we decided to take a look inside M&Co.

M&Co (formely Mackays) was established in Scotland fifty years ago and has grown to become one of the largest privately owned fashion clothing retailers in the UK and has over 300 stores including franchises in Dubai, Bulgaria and Malta.

When you walk into the store, it is easy to understand the success of this family fashion empire.The layout is generous and you can actually move clothing to look at it, rather than it being jammed in so tight, you feel like a wrestler (trying not to wrestle) Lighting is ambient but you can still see the colours for what they really are. The music is neither too loud or  piped elevator music (as my Dad liked to call it) and the staff are great. BUT the best thing about M&Co is their pricing. It’s brilliantly budget or (in a French accent) budget!

M&Co3

Take this dress. It already has (as they say in the business) hanger appeal, which makes it easier to imagine how it might look on and a quick turnaround for the retailer. Scouting around shops before personal shopping trips, It was clear to see how the store mixed good basics with embellished pieces perfectly.The website is really good for this too.

Mum took one look at the dress and said ‘It’s Christian Dior’s New Look dress of the 1950’s. It’s charming Rache’ With that, I had to try it on!

The dress feels light on and does have a designer feel about it. I thought It might feel a bit too girly with all the lace, but it doesn’t due to the midnight blue and the elegant cut. There is just enough netting underneath the dress to push it out without making me feel like a music box dancer. The hint of lilac lining beneath the bodice gives it something extra and even the grosgrain belt (which I normally discard) adds to the look. The price of the dress was 59 (GBP) but was reduced further to 40. Of course, I had to get it!

Fashion doesn’t need to be expensive to be beautiful!

 

Take a look at M&Co here.

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