Monday, December 7, 2015

Fashion & Psychology

It seems that the most opportune time for me to return to this blog is when I should technically not have much time to do so. It's Dead Week here at my university and it's called Dead Week because a small piece of you dies on the inside around this time each semester. As you may or may not know, I decided to become an undergraduate (again) to pursue a degree in Psychology. Being out of school for a few years and in the "real" world allowed me to forget the absolute torture of finals. So, like any average student, I've been procrastinating this afternoon with naps and the internet.

As I have been busy with lectures and final assignments, I thought it might be nice to write about something other than Psychology. I do love it, but my brain can only take so much research and statistical analysis. Earlier this evening, I stumbled across this gem of a documentary by Alexa Chung for British Vogue.

 

Clearly, I have a never-ending love for anything Alexa does. She has been in the industry in one way or another for over 15 years. Her inquisitiveness and passion for the industry are evident in this documentary. It reminded me of how I felt as an 18 year old sitting in my apparel lecture halls. We were presented with a video of a runway show on the first day of one of my first apparel lectures. I still remember how my heart rate quickened at the sight of couture pieces gliding toward me on an overhead screen. I particularly love this documentary because Alexa explores the complexity and attainability of the fashion industry. Once a party for the elite, fashion week now features swarms of famous bloggers and celebrities. Though this has admittedly irritated me in the past ("Who do they think they are?"), I did eventually realize that fashion is for everyone. It is not some sort of secret club that can exclude others from being special. 

As I mentioned, fashion is for the people. Fashion and society will be forever intertwined. Apparel History was, and forever will be, one of the best classes I have ever taken. You can trace economical and social changes from how our way of dressing has changed over the years. This documentary sheds light on different job opportunities. Yes, fashion can provide "real" jobs to people. Most importantly to me, this documentary sheds light on how this industry is not as frivolous and shallow as people are led to believe. As an apparel major, I often felt I had to justify my area of study to people. I was told that I seemed too smart to be a fashion major. Whatever that means. Little did my peers realize, my apparel program was connected closely with a minor in business. I did learn a lot about design and textiles, but I also learned about brand management and marketing. To further justify because I can't help myself, the particular program I was a part of encouraged an incredibly well-rounded education of apparel and treated it as a business. Business may seem a more practical route, but that does not mean fashion design is any less credible. Fashion is a multi-billion dollar industry for a reason, no? 

I became exhausted with the justifications and admittedly became a bit pessimistic about finding a job I would like in the industry. I lost a large amount of the passion I once had four years prior. Granted, I still love clothes. I still walk into stores and analyze the way they have merchandised their products. And documentaries, such as this one, stir up the love I have for fashion. My choice in dress has been an outlet for me my entire life. It is connected with my identity, my creative freedom. Sometimes I think, "What will I wear once I work in an office setting?" and then go about buying cute sweaters like I'm already there. Fashion has been a comfort to me my whole life. Knowing that I get to decide how I wish to be perceived is a powerful feeling. On a more collective scale, fashion produces revolutions. Remember the mini skirt? And I do love a good revolution. 

My absolute favorite part of this documentary (other than staring at Alexa and her clothes) is her interview with Carolyn Mair, who teaches psychology in the context of fashion. As a current student of psychology, these two industries obviously (!!!) go hand in hand. I love observing and analyzing human behavior. It is human behavior to decide what you will wear. This seems so obvious, but it is seldom discussed. I don't think I should have to explain how great it feels to realize there is some sort of cyclical pattern in my interests and studies. Once again, fashion has awakened and inspired something in me. That is why I will always love it.

Until next time,
Amelia

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