The social message of your clothes

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Sometimes my Facebook feed inspires me a lot when it comes to find subjects to talk about on my blog.

Recently there are a lot of posts about fashion and about the perception of people regarding your style.

Many people are not aware how powerful the message of your appearence can be.

Each outfit, whatever the style, sends a message : The image of you that you show to the world.

Now I can already here some of you saying « You must not judge a person’s look, it’s discrimination blah blah blah »

Discrimination or not, everyone does it, even unconciously. Those who think they don’t judge should stop lying to themselves. Yes, I’m particularly talking about you, alternative people, who always criticize people who wear jeans and t-shirts saying that they don’t have a personnality. What is that if it’s not judging someone because of what they wear ?


Everyone judges everyone.

This post is for all those who wonder why people make comments about their clothing style.

Let’s play a game  o(^▽^)o

Let’s take some handsome man in a suit. (Yeah I was looking for a good reason to put pictures of Ben Barnes on my blog, because I love Ben Barnes)

If you look at a man dressed like him in the street, you will think something like…

  • He probably works at a bank
  • He is rich
  • He is a business man
  • He works in an office
  • He is someone important
  • His life is successful
  • He is handsome
  • He is a good man
  • He is serious
  • He is mature (« a sir »)
  • He is a fraud and steals the money of his own business
  • He is a boss who exploits his workers
  • He is a seller
  • He must be British

Or anything else that you can think without knowing him just because he is wearing a suit.

How you will perceive him will depend of your state of mind, your education, your own life experiences, your social environment and the culture of your country.

For the man in a suit, the image that will be the most common is mostly related to business, being serious and important, and also an image of elegance. A man with taste, unlike those who have a neglected « I don’t care » look.

It’s a part of our culture, men in suits are considered handsome / good / serious. So if you want to send this message, you are going to wear a suit.

It is also very common to think that this man works in an office or a bank or is a boss, as they wear suits so it’s part of their image.

The suit can also send a negative message depending of your social environment. Workers being against bosses and stuff like that.

For those who wonder why I added « He must be British » to the list. It’s because I wanted to talk about the cultural image of an outfit.

If you picture an Englishman in your head. You will imagine a man wearing a suit and a bowler hat, isn’t it ?

It sounds like a stereotype, but go to London, there are entire streets full of men’s tailors shops.

When you look at someone, you will probably try to figure out what his job is, what he likes and so on. And clothes are usually great clues.

The man in a suit will generally give a positive, elegant and serious image.

Another simple example : If you see someone wearing shorts, sandals with socks and carries a back pack, all of this in front of the Eiffel Tower : This must be a tourist. It could even be a German tourist. I’m sure you will try to listen if he speaks German….

Like I said before, what you wear gives clues about who you are.

Now I guess it’s time to talk about Alternative fashions. Particularly alternative people who suffer of people’s opinion about their looks, and who always say that these people are jealous of them.

When you wear something different, be prepared because people are going to stare, make comments. You have to be aware that these people are going to assign you some characteristics / jobs / passions, and if you are really proud of your style, this should not affect you. You can even take this as compliments even if it’s not positive for others.

But if the other’s opinions make you suffer, it is not their problem, but the image you are giving to them.
The message your looks sends to them is not the one you would like to, and because of this you might not want to wear the clothes anymore, because you are afraid of being stared and laughed at. This means that you are not so sure about your alternative style.

« He’s wearing all black, he is a goth, so he must be depressed, you have to be careful and not hang out with him. For sure he worships Satan, because they said it in a talk show on TV. »

Let’s take another example, which I know very well because like goth, I have been into it : Japanese « Kawaii » fashions.

Japanese culture is very different from our culture, and is not very well known by most of the people. (Breaking News : It’s not because you watched one anime once when you were 6 in the 90s because it was trendy, that you’re an expert in Japanese culture)

Unlike our gentleman in a suit that we see dozens of them everyday in the street and who looks familiar, or even a Goth, because everyone has already seen goths in the street on a regular basis, Japanese fashions are not familiar to our european eyes.

People are scared of the unknown and it can lead to questions.

If you are wearing this kind of outfit, you probably have been stopped in the street and asked questions such as :

  • Do you wear this on a daily basis ?
  • Is it cosplay ?
  • Which character are you cosplaying ?
  • Are you in a play ?
  • Do you dress like manga ?
  • Is this a manga style ?
  • You look like a child.
  • Hello Kitty (or any other Kawaii character) is for children
  • Are you one of these living dolls we see on TV ?
  • This is not your age.
  • Are you in a cult ?
  • Is it sexual ? (Ageplay)
  • Is it a costume ?
  • Why are you wearing a costume ? For which occasion ?
  • Is it a bachelorette party ?

People will also think that you are 15 even if you are 30 and will treat you like a 15 year old.

Of course you will start to explain that this is not a costume, that it’s born in the streets of Japan and particularly in the Harajuku district in Tokyo and that you are wearing these clothes on a daily basis.


If people think all of this, it’s because it’s the image your outfit sends them. They will not care about your explanations and will still judge you.

For example the Japanese « kawaii » stuff : Candy, cakes, characters like Hello Kitty, kittens, unicorns, princess-like dresses, child-like clothing, « cute » behavior.

In our western culture, these images are associated to children. So someone in their 20s wearing items with this kind of images and colors will be surprising. People who don’t know japanese culture will ask questions and will directly think that it’s a costume and that it’s « hopefully » just for fun and not real clothing.

And they will not care if you say « But in Japan…. » because we are not in Japan.

Our culture is different, this is the reason why our perception of a same image can be very different.

(By the way, even in Japan, don’t imagine that everyone is wearing Kawaii stuff)

Talking about Japan, the « Manga and Cosplay » image that makes you so mad…

Once again, Manga and anime are very popular in our country (Particularly France, who is the second biggest manga consumer after Japan), so everyone has seen a manga / anime at least once. And you cannot say that manga characters wear outfits that are very close to your beloved japanese street fashions. So the image you send is : A person who likes manga and who would like to look like a manga character.

People who know only manga and nothing else of the Japanese culture, will put you in the « manga » basket. It’s normal because people need to associate things they see with things they know. You cannot blame them for that.

It is exactly the same with all the child-like imagery. You will be considered like a « child-woman » or someone who does not want to grow up and want to escape reality and adult life.

At the very best, people will just think that you are wearing a costume for a special occasion.

If you choose to wear something that is not familiar to most of the people, you will have questions and remarks. Even if most of the people won’t even look at you, some others will feel the urge of asking you questions, even if they are just curious.

Important advice : Don’t take everything badly and don’t say people are constantly harassing or assaulting you. If you do this, you will just nurture the bad image of alternative people and people will continue to say that you’re rude.

Also even when you are wearing clothes that are familiar to people, like for example vintage clothes, you will always have people asking « Why do you dress like my grandma ? » or « My grandma had the same dress », or for men « You look like a grandpa ».

The thing is that the image of the grandparents is that they are old. But never forget that grandpa and grandma used to be young.

Whatever you are wearing, you will be judged. Even if you wear jeans and t shirts. Some people will judge your social status depending of which brands you wear, and others will say that you don’t have a personnality or that you are a fashion victim.

This is why it is important to take care of your appearence, but don’t forget to be concious of the image you send to the world.

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