First impressions aren’t important, right?
Wrong. In psychology, there’s this thing called the Halo Effect, which is when one attributes an array of positive features to an attractive-looking person such as trustworthiness, intelligence, athleticism, etc. As humans, we like pretty things; simple as that. It’s common sense, really, but many people forget or disregard it as unimportant in daily life. Well, as the local fashionista (I even got a badge from my art teacher that says “Fashion Police”), it is my duty to debunk this misconception.
The Halo Effect is not pseudo-science; it’s a proven phenomenon in psychology. To put it bluntly, when people have good impressions of you, it is much easier for you to get what you want. For example, who will get the job: the guy wearing a graphic tee and old faded jeans or the one dressed in formal-wear to an interview? Most of the time, it is the latter. Why? Because the interviewer attributed the well-dressed guy with all the positive attributes, and they practically convinced themselves to hire the guy solely on the fact that he looks good. This works regardless of sexual orientation and aesthetic preferences. In a study by Furnham, Chan, and Wilson (2013), professionals in “formal attire were . . . rated as more suitable, capable, easier to talk to, and friendlier . . . than those dressed in . . . casual attire.” Another study by Talamas, Mayor, and Perrett (2016) found that the Halo Effect can affect the perceptions of others on a student, as well as the student’s academic achievement itself. Basically, “dress for success” is not just a colloquial saying.
So, now that I’ve explained why fashion is important, I will now address the bigger question: how does one fashion? One of the biggest concerns that many people have is cost. A pair of good pants cost a lot nowadays, and I agree completely. That is why thrifting is the best idea ever to be thought of (besides Internet and maybe also toilet paper). From where I live, there are Goodwills where people donate their old clothes for others to buy. There are also stores called Unique that are basically bigger and better Goodwills. I have found so many nice articles of clothing at these places. And yes, the idea of wearing a stranger’s old clothes may be weird, but the clothes you are wearing now probably have been tried on by a number of strangers before you bought it too. A nice wash with soap and water removes all the skin cells, debris, and unwanted materials off of anything.
Another argument many people make is: you can impress just as much by wearing brands. That is true, but often, brands are consciously rather than unconsciously processed, and depending on the person, brands can often hurt first impressions. Wearing a white t-shirt with a giant “Versace” printed dead-center may come across as arrogant and show-offy. Because brands are consciously registered, different people will have different interpretations. The sub and unconscious are often much more convincing in these situations.
There are many different styles of clothing throughout human history and in modern day, from formal Victorian to business attire to punk-Gothic to artistically quirky. Which one to choose? Sadly, I do not have an answer for that question. Everyone has their own preferences, so the best advice I can say is to try out everything and see which one works best. Take inspiration from magazines, TV shows, movies, anime, YouTube, and anything else. That’s what I do. After that, mix and match and create your own style. For me personally, my style is sometimes Hipster, Gothic, modern-Victorian, Korean drama actor, or K-pop singer. When in doubt about certain combinations, I use Google Images (it’s surprisingly helpful). For example, if I’m unsure whether or not to wear red pants with a white shirt, I google “red pants and white shirt” in images. Be careful when doing this though. Take into consideration the shades of the pieces, as well as other pieces in the outfit (coats, shoes, hats, and/or accessories).
In the end, I’m not going to say “do this” or “don’t do this” because, ultimately, fashion is an art, and there are no rules to art. Wear what you feel best represents who you are. Go for it if you like to wear shorts in winter or walk around in all-plaids. All I did was provide some incentives for dressing nicely and advice for how to do so. It’s up to you to decide what’s most appropriate.
Best of luck in your fashion journey!