The New Psychology of Fashion

Stepping back out onto the streets of the post-pandemic world can be tough for a number of reasons, but the long fantasization of the seemingly out-of-reach world of style has made it even more daunting.

To better understand why the industry and all that encompasses it seems so paralyzing, it is best to first understand the psychology behind fashion and how it relates to humans on a scientific level.

A pure symbiotic relationship at work, the human form is at the base of all fashion, who is then intimately affected by the resulting product.

In an interview with the American Psychological Association, Author Carolyn Mair said, “The fashion industry is about people. It employs millions worldwide and everyone wears clothes. Clothes are the closest thing to our bodies, they’re our second skin.”

Proven especially during the pandemic, clothing significantly impacts the way people think about themselves and behave in front of others.

In an interview with BBC Culture, Rose Turner, Fashion Psychologist at the London College of Fashion said, “When other activities that help us to feel ‘like us’ such as hobbies, seeing friends and going to work, are unavailable, getting dressed up may help people to reinforce their sense of self.”

“I definitely feel better once I get dressed properly,” said junior Regan Daly. “I think it’s just the act of focusing on myself for a little while in the morning that makes me feel more confident.”

Another shift to the fashion space is the rise of a recurring psychological phenomenon, that the height of heeled shoes is always in perfect opposition to the state of the economy. Best stated in an article by The New York Post, “When the economy goes low, the heels go high.”

This phenomenon dates back to the financial struggles seen during the Great Depression in the 1930s, World War II in the 1940s and even the oil crisis of the 1970s. During all of these times, heeled shoes gained height as the economy suffered.

With the current rise of consumerism that many have dubbed “The New Roaring Twenties,” following the COVID-19 lockdown, consumers have found themselves with a choice of footwear dominated by height. Designers are sending their models down the runway in high heels and platforms have made their way back into the closets of high fashion consumers, only perpetuating the theory of discussion.

According to a YouTube video, Fashion Critique ModernGurlz said, “After a period of hardship, we tend to go the other direction and dress luxuriously, and what better way to do that by wearing absurdly high heels?”

“I didn’t even notice it, but I have been seeing higher heels on the runway recently. So many platforms especially,” said junior Hailey Morelli.

Following the pandemic, there has also been a psychological shift in the way social media platforms like Instagram are used to share and produce fashion content.

Rising fashion influencer and Louis Vuitton Brand Ambassador, Emma Chamberlain, has fully embodied the hashtag turned meme popularized in the summer of 2021, “#makeinstagramcasualagain.” This includes Chamberlain posting heavily edited branded photos next to low-quality photos of her with no-makeup or purposely taken at unflattering angles.

The goal of this trend is to lower the astronomically high expectations of primarily female social media users, while continuing to promote and churn out the sales of fashion products.

“I think it’s so cool that Instagram influencers like Emma post photos that aren’t edited or posed. I think it makes her seem more relatable, to me at least, and I just like the vibe of her feed more,” said Morelli.

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