Tuesday, June 4, 2013
An introduction to the language of clothing for men
Too many men are bewildered by the unspoken language of clothing and fashion. Rather than attempting to piece together the latest rules of fashion, rely on three fundamentals to shape your wardrobe as a man: the basics of fit, style, and accenting.
Anyone who’s had to spend a long day at the mall with a serious shopping enthusiast already knows that fashion is a language — and probably thinks of it as a staggeringly incomprehensible one as well. Everyone likes to think of himself as a well-spoken, articulate individual, and the idea that our clothing is speaking for us before we get a chance to open our mouths can be an uncomfortable one.
Unfortunately — or fortunately, for the sharp dressers among us — the human brain loves assumptions, particularly assumptions drawn from brief visual impulses. We save computing power in our brain by relying on past experience to teach us what a particular appearance means. In our caveman days this meant reacting reflexively to visual cues like “bright colors are poisonous,” and now it means that we form our impressions of people based on their appearance.
However beautiful your face may be, the reality of most social situations is that your clothes are going to do most of the talking in those first few seconds of visual processing. With the exception of the occasional beach party, we spend most of our public lives with about 90% of our bodies covered. The covering is going to make the impression. Understanding and controlling what your clothing is saying about you may be the most important conversational skill you ever master.