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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How Do I Look?

Remember that old cliche where women are supposed to love shopping while the men folk are dragged along only to drop into the nearest chair, uttering ‘Yes dear, it looks fine dear’ ‘But, don’t you have one like that already..dear?’ are thankfully (mostly) confined to the archives of 70’s sitcoms.

Despite the myth that Women are supposed to love shopping I know for a fact many don’t like it at all. Some I speak to even hate it!

Surveys in the UK suggest that up to 44% of women don’t like clothes shopping one bit. Apart from the usual issues such as finding the right size, not wanting to try on clothes, bad lighting and poorly placed mirrors. (all true) There can be an issue of too much choice (or lack thereof)




Having too much of a choice doesn’t sound like much of a problem considering world events, but having the confidence to know what looks right, and step out of the house feeling good about yourself can be an uphill struggle for those battling with issues in low self-esteem and confidence.

If you look good, you feel good. This has a positive effect on yourself as well as those around you and can affect for the better, every aspect of your life.

Shopping for men it has to be said, is far easier. By definition, their choice is narrower. For the corporate environment at least, they can choose between suit, pants, shirt, tie, jacket, sweater, shoes, man-bag and coat. Business dress for men is more relaxed than ever though, and lines can still get blurred. Successful dressing for men is down to the right tailoring, style, colour and cloth.



Shopping for women on the other hand, is a whole new ball game.

Although many of us can remember the carefree days of dressing up and experimenting with shopping in our youth.Having the responsibility of a young family, work, stress or illness can leave many women on the back foot regarding confidence, energy and the feel-good factor they once had.

With the continual care of others’, many mums tell me they are lucky to get even a brush through their hair before heading out the door on the school run. Let alone choose an outfit for the day!

One of the reasons shopping can be such a minefield for women today, is they can wear absolutely everything! From skirts, to shirts, dungarees to dinner jackets, catsuits to cufflinks. As well as every concievable colour, material and style in between.

We can cross borders without a fashion visa from feminine to masculine quicker than you can say The Devil Wears Prada.

With more choice comes more problems. Can I wear this length? Is this colour right for me? Does this make me look too young? What else will it go with? Am I trying too hard? All the hurdles, hoops and mental checks we go through before we buy something (and then to take it back) can be exhausting until we start the process of on-line shopping and find it just as fruitless.

Then there is the hair, makeup, nails, and general maintenance departments to keep the whole look rolling on.

IMG_7600After being lost in the ‘I’ve got nothing to wear’ maize for too long, and trying to put things right with well meaning relatives and friends, a style coach is often the only way out and onto a new path and direction.

As well as coming from a neutral and non-judgemental stand point, the role of a personal shopper is about matching an image to a personality and elevating a profile (whatever role in life) This allows you to get on with the job efficiently and successfully without thinking a second longer about the image you just worked at.

And the best part?  Everyone will think it came from you.

To find out more about how a style coach can get you out of your maize, speak to Rachel for an initial consultation: +44 79890 77603 or email rachel@rachel-moss.com



If Clothes Could Talk!

If Clothes Could Talk-What Would They Say About You?

Along with physical fitness and health, what we wear, has the ability to impact and change the way we feel about ourselves

How we feel about ourselves (regardless of age, shape and size) can affect not only our moods but also alter our thought processes. It can shape our body language, facial expressions as well as the way we walk, talk, move and breathe.

Used effectively, clothing has the power to communicate and change the personal and professional attention we get and how others react to us.In a positive way or a negative one.

Developing your own style, rather than copying others’ allows you to put a unique stamp on your personality, add authenticity and help to express who you are, from the inside,out.

If you have become lost in a wardrobe of clothes that no longer fit and make you feel good or are hanging onto a look that is twenty years (too) old, then consider these tips when looking for a new style.

You are unique!

In order to bring about change, it is important to be aware of the things that make you the unique person you are. Everyone has something special about them!

Listing the positive physical aspects of ourselves, is not something we do everyday, but in order to find a style that fits your personality, increases your self-confidence and makes you an original, it is an important exercise.

Write down three things you most like about your personal appearance. Think about all the positive things family and friends have said about you (repeatedly) Is it your hair, skin, eyes or smile. Your toned arms, slim legs, small waist, height or posture?



What do you do to highlight these unique qualities?

Do you wear colours that flatter your pale skin and bring out the blue in your eyes, halter neck tops that highlight your toned arms, wrap dresses to emphasise your hour glass figure, belts or high-waisted skirts to show off your waist, or shorts and skinny jeans with heels to accent your legs


The choice when it comes to clothes shopping is huge and overwhelming. It is why people call on the services of a personal shopper in order to help edit these choices. The sessions are intensive style workouts designed to get rid of bad habits while keeping the focus on what works for you, your body shape, budget and lifestyle.

Choosing the right cut, colour, fabric, pattern and accessories goes a long way to creating a style that not only fits with your bodyshape, but also your character and personality.

For example, clothes in a monochrome pallette can give the illusion of height and create a more streamlined look, bold patterns and colour distract the eye away from the body parts that we would prefer to disguise. Using accessories can turn an outfit from a flop into fabulous in seconds!

Style Personality

Dramatic Classic Vintage Bohemian Sporty Natural

There are many style categories to choose from and you can always add more! But think about which one of these you are most drawn to. It could be you are a mixture between two. Some looks will take more effort to keep going than others, so think about how they could fit in with your lifestyle. At the end of the day, your style should appear effortless and be a part of you, not apart from you!

Take a look at Pinterest for images relating to the styles you like and see what you already have in your closet that could start off your new look!

For further information on how any of my style sessions can help you turn a style corner, please feel free to get in touch by phone or email!