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How Fashion Changes Everyday Discourse

The Doe Team

by The Doe Team

| December 9, 2021

Fashion has an important effect on how you feel about yourself, how others perceive you and how you engage.

Your choices in fashion are deliberate and personal, affecting your state of mind and the perception of those around you. Perception of another’s display of fashion can have a critical impact on how you interact with them, making discourse successful or even more challenging.

What are they wearing?”

You’ve heard it before. Sometimes, it is said in horror, other times, in awe. From celebrities at the Oscars to the person in front of you at the coffee shop, it goes without saying that what you wear influences your experiences.

Fashion is the pinnacle of self-expression and identity. It gives way to confidence and agency, but in the same vein, alters the perceptions other people have of the wearer. 

Fashion is a series of deliberate choices that reflect the inside and can have a critical effect on subsequent discourse. This blog will explore how fashion affects how you feel about yourself, how others perceive you and how you engage.1-4

The Self

There’s a reason people say, “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have.” 

You are wired to behave in accordance with what you wear, giving your wardrobe a direct influence on your state of being. Fashion is personal branding, and it’s what you do every day when you dress up for a date or dress down for the grocery store. 

Consider what you wore to your last date. Did you feel sharp? Attractive? You chose that outfit specifically to make you look and feel that way (and it probably worked).

Your confidence isn’t the only aspect of yourself that is altered by fashion. Style allows you to experiment with your identity in a safe and impermanent way, encouraging self-discovery.

Fashion is so directly tied to identity that personal style is often influenced by the social, political and cultural environment.


The Perception

While fashion is a powerful mode of self-discovery, it can have a range of impact. Perception is the ability to make judgements, however passive or assertive, about your surroundings. Though it can be quick and unfair, it is a dominant part of culture. 

There are expectations for dress in almost any establishment and organization, created to manage perceptions and control behaviors. This isn’t altogether a bad thing: “No shirt, no shoes, no service” is as much about hygiene as it is about perception. 

Since fashion is closely tied to identity, how you perceive someone’s fashion choices can be critical to how you view their character. It’s important to be careful about the judgements you make about a person based on how they present themselves. You don’t have to like what they wear, but creating a narrative about a person based on their appearance can be dangerous.


The Interaction

Perception is often unconscious and effortless. But what happens when perception goes unchecked? When your behavior is influenced by your perception, your interactions with others could get tricky.

People are rewarded or punished based on their fashion choices. One of the simplest examples is an interview. The person most sharply dressed for their professional interview has an edge over other applicants. They might even be rewarded for their fashion decisions by receiving an offer for the job (this is called the halo effect). 

But life isn’t always simple, and situations aren’t as clear cut as a job interview. 

When the person in front of you at the coffee shop is wearing a T-shirt or hat in support of a candidate you oppose, how do you react when they bump into you and spill a bit of their coffee? You might begrudgingly help them clean up, or you might choose to engage positively despite the assumptions you have made.

Our perception of others can influence our interactions, for better or worse.


Moving Forward

Fashion is critical to identity and perception, and the inherent perception of someone’s choice in fashion can alter how we engage in discourse. As you move forward in your everyday interactions, consider what you can do to engage thoughtfully and respectfully, knowing that fashion impacts how you feel about yourself and others.

Discourse shows up outside of social media and serious conversations. It is part of your everyday life. Subscribe below to read more about how discourse shows up in your life, like fashion, and why it’s important.


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