Dressing as a statement, a shield, a seduction. Imogen at Inside Out Style has an informative post in her archives, an interview about style with image consultant Sarah Brummitt. It’s worth a full read.
When asked, “What is the secret to great style?”, Ms. Brummit said:
“Knowing what you want your clothes to express about you. Women dress to make a statement, to provide a shield or to create a seduction…..and I definitely dress to make a statement.”
I love to break things down, analyze, categorize and list them. These qualities make me a very good student, and an occasionally annoying life partner. So I jumped all over this statement – are these the three reasons we dress? And if so, WHICH ONE IS ME?
It’s easy to discard the “create a seduction” reason. At age 65, and in a happy, long-term marriage, I rarely feel the need to seduce through clothing. A raised eyebrow, a glass of wine, a Bruce Springsteen song . . . well, we are getting off topic.
Clothing of course provides a shield, a physical one to protect us from exposure to the elements and to prying eyes. Clothes can also blur our uniqueness and identify us as part of a group. Obvious examples are school uniforms, military attire and the head-to-toe coverings required of certain religious groups. Less extreme, but still “shielding” are the uniforms some of us adapt to hide our specialness: the all-black, all-the-time look, or baggy clothing that says “Don’t look at me.”
“Dressing to make a statement” sounds like the go-to, in-between position. That statement can change from day to day, year to year, and according to one’s mood. It’s freeing to be able to express ourselves through the variety of clothing available at all price points. (Confession: It gets overwhelming sometimes too, and some days a uniform doesn’t sound so bad.)
My clothing statement as a practicing psychotherapist was pretty straightforward: “you can trust me.” I wanted to appear approachable and responsible, but not too stuffy/intimidating. My retirement years allow for much more freedom and therefore more challenges . . . what statement do I want to make around town, on dates with my husband? I’m in a Modern, Downtown, Neutrals mood as I write this post.
“Fashion is what you’re offered four times a year by designers. And style is what you choose.”–Lauren Hutton
I’d love to hear from you: Do you dress to seduce, shield, or make a statement? What are the statements your clothing makes about you?
Stay safe, xo
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I would say that up until this past year I would dress to make a statement about who I am, but now, as I work from home and don’t see anyone except my next door neighbour, I dress in comfortable, cat-hair friendly clothes. I am looking forward to the time when I can travel and visit friends and become re-acquainted with my “statement-making clothing”. I am also watching the “Worn Stories” series on Netflix and I would echo Sheila’s positive review.
What a fascinating question! I will have to go and read what Imogen has to say. I have been dressing to shield myself from unwanted attention since my mid-20s. However I have always loved bright colors and pretty clothes so I don’t necessarily blend in with the crowd, either. I think even as a young woman, I would have been exceedingly uncomfortable dressing to seduce. And today, I like to look nice in my own eyes (I have no idea how others would see me), but I would feel costumey if I were to dress to make a statement of some kind. Or, maybe that is my statement – I look good to myself.
I definitely express myself through clothes, so I guess I’m in the Making a Statement category. I deploy Clothing As Armour (when you need to feel strong or in control), and Colour Therapy (helping myself – and others! – spark happiness through colourful clothing). There’s a series on Netflix right now called “Worn Stories”, Patti, that I would recommend, that examines our relationships with clothing. https://www.netflix.com/ca/title/80240923 – I’m a few episodes in, and am reminded that sometimes I also want to commune with my loved ones through wearing their clothing and jewelry, as well. It is nice to see clothing being treated as a serious subject.
I suppose the statement I want to make now, as I approach 80 is that I haven’t given up on life and that I still care about presenting an attractive front to the world.
Thank you great article as always and interesting site you recommended. To be honest, I dress and style outfits to enhance my looks. I find when I feel attractive well dressed and creatively adorned I just feel energetic , rejuvenated ,and happy ready to enjoy life. Sounds vain but when I feel good I am more able to be more giving and loving to others which is most important.
Interesting topic! I live in the Sunny South. At my age — 62 — with very fair skin, and taking medicines that make one even more sun-sensitive — I mostly dress to be covered. In the spring-summer-autumn, that means light cottons and linens, even though pant legs and blouse sleeves are long. In the winter, I get to layer up in silks and woolens, head to toe.
Modesty also makes me want to be mostly covered. No one except my husband needs to see all my bits and bobs.
Vanity wants to disguise the lumps and bumps inherent to aging bodies … also the “turkey neck” that has just jumped onto my throat. No one wants to see that.