Scientists confirm the obvious

Guess what, everyone! Science now shows that people’s choices of footwear express meaningful details about their personalities!

Duh. Anyone with half a functioning brain knows that clothing choices are a form of communication. Even people who don’t take great pains over their personal appearance communicate effectively through fashion! (Their message is: I don’t care.)

This fact – that clothing is effectively a nonverbal “language” – is what makes people who whine about being “stereotyped” due to their fashion choices so very annoying. Everything you choose to display on your person – from tattoos to jewelry to shoes – says something about you; and, like vocabulary, you personally do not get to define exactly what it means. Make an informed decision about what message you want other people to take away from your appearance. If there’s a cultural understanding about what certain clothing choices mean, don’t complain when people attribute things to you based on your tattoos, your untucked shirt, your beltless pants, your miniskirt and cropped tank top that you’d really rather them not attribute to you. You are communicating with other people; you don’t get to redefine the vocabulary to mean whatever you want it to mean.

Now, fashion vocabulary does change with culture, and cultures change over time; some people no doubt will be on the vanguard of a new wave of attire definitions. The transition, for instance, of men’s formal wear from brilliantly colored garments to the standard black suit was no doubt fraught with competing impressions. What I expect, from those trying to alter fashion language, is understanding – understanding the fashion language they’re trying to change, its history and causes. I expect from the truly avant-guarde is the courage to accept that they’re going to receive withering criticism and cold shoulders from some people, and to face it without playing the whiny victim card. After all, what they’re doing is, essentially, “misrepresenting” themselves – they have to, in order to sway the definition from what it was to what they want it to be.

And people don’t like liars.


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