All the other elements of style (texture, fit, color, etc.) feed into personality. What do your clothes say about you as a person? This goes beyond clothes. It’s all about how you wear things and what you’re comfortable in and what you like.
What do my clothes say about me? I’m hardly impartial, but I’ll try breaking these photos down and running through some of the elements. (For purposes of illustration, Ashley shall be referring to herself in the third person.)
Drama and Eccentricity
There’s some drama in this woman’s soul. She’s combined a bright blue, an abstract print, and shoes covered in spikes. It’s a weird combination, but she’s obviously leaning into the weirdness, because she put them all together. Each piece could have been toned down – the sweater could be paired with jeans and a t-shirt and the dress could be paired with a structured black blazer. (The shoes could also go with jeans and a t-shirt, but since they are covered in spikes, they’ll still be funky. They’re just naturally a little weird.)
The length of the skirt and the length of the dress are both exaggerated, and that larger-than-life attitude translates to drama. It’s more dramatic than it is flattering, because a shorter hemline would highlight her legs more and a shorter jacket would highlight her waist more. So she’s not too concerned with how people see her, but she’s definitely not hiding.
She’s not taking this photo session very seriously. It looks like she’s trying to do the YMCA dance and misspelling it.
High Powered Nerd
She’s got more tailored separates going on for this look, juxtaposed against the informality and nerdiness of her Star Wars tee. It’s like she wanted to wear the t-shirt, but realized she need to go to work, so she threw on a blazer to make it seem more business-appropriate. The blazer and fitted trousers just draw more attention to her t-shirt, because it’s the only colorful aspect of the outfit.
It looks like she likes sci-fi and wants to let everybody know that about her. The outfit and her stance in this photo make her look confident. The blazer gives the impression of competence and the heels improve her posture. The whole look says, “I may be a geek, but don’t underestimate me.”
This outfit looks happy, cute, and relaxed. But what gives us those impressions? The happiness factor mainly comes from the bright splash of sunshine yellow. Colors are emotional and yellow signals HAPPY to our brains. The hat and dotted shirt almost have a childlike look to them, which reads cute. The jeans and flat boots look comfortable and the pose looks natural, which gives the whole outfit a relaxed feeling. If the person wearing the clothes looks uncomfortable, it’s almost impossible to think of those clothes as comfortable.
The wearer sells the outfit. Cool girls make the uncoolest of clothes look cool. You know the kind of girl I’m talking about – they walk into a room wearing culotte overalls over a baggy sweater and you start thinking about where to find some culotte overalls. Relaxed girls make their clothes look comfortable, beautiful women make their clothes look gorgeous, funny girls make their clothes look quirky. The more personality you have, the more personality your clothes have.
This is a simple look, but it gives the feeling of somebody who’s ready to go. Maybe on a road trip, maybe on a hike, maybe on a small and spontaneous adventure. That plaid flannel lulls you into a sense of outdoorsiness, whether real or imaginary. The boots have a weathered patina, but did they come from the store that way? Or did the wearer earn that distressed finish? It’s hard to know.
You know those guys in airports? The ones wearing charcoal suits and black leather shoes, wheeling tiny luggage, and speaking importantly into headsets? Sometimes you hear snippets of the conversation. Things like “Brian is still getting up to speed, so I’m having to pick up the slack” and “When I get back, let’s go over the paperwork.” Wouldn’t you be shocked if those guys WEREN’T going on business trips? It’s hard for my brain to imagine any other situation for them to be in. It’s not just the suit and the leather shoes. It’s the aura of busy-busy-business that they carry around with them.
Some clothes act as a uniform for particular situations. Like gym clothes. Or yoga pants. They are literally NAMED for the situation they are normally found in. If you’re walking around in gym clothes, you have the air of I’m-just-on-the-way-to-the-gym. Little Black Dresses are uniforms for any occasion that’s dressy, but not TOO dressy. Buttondowns and slacks are interview outfits.
People project intention. Clothes have a ton to do with that. Want to look responsible? Dress like a responsible person. Wear a blazer and slacks and pumps and a blouse and look that interviewer in the eye and speak with good diction. Are you scared inside? Absolutely. But that doesn’t matter right now. What matters is trying your best to get a job. Want everybody to leave you alone? You can wear a shirt that has GO AWAY AND LEAVE ME ALONE printed on the front. Or you can wear facial expression that says that same thing, but with a couple expletives thrown in. You’ll get the same results.
When people say that I’m a character, I take that as a high compliment. I want to be a character. I want to be interesting and unique and I want my clothes to reflect that. When I put together my outfits, I don’t copy anybody. They’re an expression of my intention, my situation, my faith, my finances, my taste, what I love, and what I don’t.
Wherever I go, there I am, but that doesn’t mean I stay the same. I don’t have to uncritically accept myself as a finished product. There’s room for improvement and there’s time to improve. I’m a different person than I was ten years ago and my clothes definitely reflect that. What will I look like in another ten years?