Are you being dressed or dressed up?

Written by Manou Messmann

Today I tell you why you should dress up instead of just getting dressed.

We all have several personalities -so why dress the same everyday?

Some weeks ago I went to an event and chose to wear a hat, some 70´s pants and a riding jacket. Not the clothes I usually wear  –but I feel attracted by this type of clothes. It allows the more extravagant side of my personality to come out. And no, I am not suffering from schizophrenia I am just convinced that most of our identity is constructed and that we perform different roles according to the different social arenas we are engaging in. To say it shortly; you are not the exact same person when you eat dinner with your mom, as you are when you talk to your boss, or your best friend from your childhood.

Dressing as a reflective process

So if we stay with the thought about acting out different roles or sides of our personality, it make sense that we don’t dress alike in all the different contexts we are a part of. In my university thesis, I interviewed a group of fashiongirls. They were first-movers, so it was quite obvious that they were dressed fashionable ALL THE TIME, but what was really interesting (I investigated the function of fashion in identity creating processes) was the big difference that occurred in the way of dressing, according to what they were doing and with who.

At work they looked very sharp and professional, at home with their family it was important to look relaxed and comfortable, and together with the friends, they tried to look funny and easy-going. So the items they picked out to wear was dominated of the signals they wanted to send according to the different contexts. In this case the girls are not just getting dressed. They use a lot of energy to decide what to wear and it is a complex and very reflective process, that reminds me of the theory I was introduced to during my study in communication:

  • Which message do I want to send?
  • To who?
  • And in which context do I want to send the message?

So the process of getting dressed is not something that is 100% intuitive. It is a reflective process, that most of us have in some extent. But we don´t feel dressed up. We feel like we are being “us” –we try to dress like we feel or perceive ourselves.

 

Tavi

 

 

 

 

 

I am quite sure that Tavi does´t feel dressed up, even though others might think so.

 

When are we dressing up?

What is happening when someone is “really” dressed up? When do you look at a person and think “OMG”(with a smile of course)? Most of the time it is probably when the clothes is wearing the person and not the other way around. It looks like the person don´t feel relaxed and confident about the outfit. We all agree that it is better if YOU are wearing the clothes and we like the idea about clothing coming from the inside and out instead of from the outside and in. That is also the reason why so many style-advisors say “don´t be dictated by trends –find out what is you”. 

Nick W 2

Susie B

 

 

 

Susie B and Nick W have certainly found their style -Their way of dressing “inside out” -but there will still be a difference in their outer appearance according to what they are doing and with who.

 

 

 

 

Dress to success

But –and there is always a but –what if it is a fxxxxx good idea to be dressed up? What if it can contribute with something positive to your life to dress in something that doesn´t feel quite like you? I would definitely do it –actually I am doing it!

In the TED talk I did in December 2014, I talked about how you should dress like a graphic designer if you wanted to become one(besides getting the education of course). Don´t wait to dress like one until you get the job. Your surroundings need to SEE what you are contributing with or want to contribute with, otherwise they can´t help you to get there.

My theory is inspired by another speaker named Amy Cuddy. She is a social psychologist and found out that body language can effect your chances for success. So just by doing a powerful body position others will perceive you as powerful and you will feel powerful even though you didn´t feel powerful to begin with. The same thing is happening when you dress powerfully: Others often perceive you as powerful and you feel more powerful. Just think about how you feel as a woman, when you put on some killer heels -or when you take on a nice suit as a man.

Wear something that isn´t you –yet!

So my suggestion is of course; try to wear something that shows where you are heading. Show your dreams to the world. If you want to be a leader, dress like a leader. If you want to work as a stylist –show your styling skills everyday on yourself. Go out and wear your dream TODAY!

images

 

 

 

 

He doesn´t look confident about the outfit right now, but I am sure he will get there;-)