At one point or another, we’ve all noticed a person because of what they’re wearing. Once or twice, we’re betting it came with the thought: “they look amazing, but I could never pull it off.”
Have you ever wondered why that is? Why we’re drawn to some trends more than others? Why people who wear what we’d never dare always seem to positively ooze confidence? (So many questions, we know).
In simple words, the answer is science. Yep, your old high school psychology.
Because we’re not into reading textbooks, we took the fun option and spoke to Australian Style Institute founder, Lauren Di Bartolo. She’s pretty much an expert on the psychology of styling and had some interesting insights on matters like why we dislike certain colours, and how nailing our personal style will do more than just make us look good.
It's all about first impressions
First things first. We know the clothing we wear helps to influence people’s impressions of us, but the link is probably a little stronger than you thought.
“Eighty per cent of communication is unconscious and it takes only 3.5 seconds to make a first impression,” explains Lauren.
What you’re wearing and how it makes you feel plays a pretty important part in that 3.5 seconds.
“We can help others to make a more accurate impression of us through what we communicate visually, linguistically and physiologically,” says Lauren.
In other words, it’s an unspoken form of communication.
“It’s exciting to meet someone who has a strong sense of personal style, because their style says so much about what they like and what matters to them,” explains Lauren.
“It makes it easy for others to build rapport with them, because there is less that is being guarded.”
Your outfit can change your behaviour
More important than others’ perceptions of you, is how you feel about yourself.
“What we think we can wear (and what we think we can’t), is based on subconscious beliefs and that impacts our behaviour,” says Lauren.
Case in point: how you feel wearing bodycon.
If you believe you can wear bodycon, you probably feel like an unstoppable goddess every time you wear it. If you believe you can’t wear bodycon,* you’ll probably notice your body language change every time you slip on a bandage dress (which is never btw).
“People react differently to you when you feel great about yourself. And you react differently to others when you don’t. As humans, it’s part of our makeup to connect but sometimes, when we don’t feel confident in ourselves, it is difficult to do,” shares Lauren.
“[When feeling confident] we see our clients get the jobs they want, because they interview successfully. Who wouldn’t want to hire someone who seems confident, approachable, capable and well-presented?”
We’re definitely rethinking that un-ironed shirt from under the bed now.
“Our clients feel more confident to put themselves out there for the things they want, be it relationships, promotions or experiences they have yet tried.”
The importance of colour
Let’s talk colour. Sure, we all associate red with warmth, blue with calm, but what about the shades you wear? According to Lauren, there’s reason behind why you’ll never be seen in Forest Green.
“Colour is highly emotive. Often the colours we don’t like are linked to our experiences – for instance, of growing up. Like the colour of your school uniform, or a jumper your mum forced you to wear as child.”
There’s also a few colours we should be adding into our wardrobes, too.
“Blue is the ultimate colour for communication and red is the colour of power,” says Lauren.
“It’s no surprise that across politics, these are the colours we see constantly.”
It now makes sense why Hillary Clinton is always, always rocking a blue power suit.
Tips for improving your style
Here’s the fun part. Improving on, and playing around with, your sense of style is often a good excuse to splash some cash (yes ploise). So, if you do decide to head to the shops, there are a few helpful tricks to keep in mind, as told by Lauren.
1. Trends don’t always have to be followed, just look for styles you like. It’s easy to buy into a trend you wouldn’t usually wear, just because evvvvveryone seems to be rocking it.
2. Rather than wondering whether or not you can pull off an outfit, just try it on! Trying on is as important as sizing is inconsistent, and some garments have little hanger appeal.
3. Set a budget and get creative. Often people think a budget takes away their options, when it usually gives you a whole lot more choice.
4. Identify gaps before going out and shopping. That way, you can help the brain focus on what you are looking to purchase and avoid buying more of what you already have.
If you fancy taking your style knowledge to the next level, Australian Style Institute is holding an Open Day next Wednesday October 26. It’s your chance to explore the very Insta-worthy campus (trust us), while witnessing ASI’s Certificate of Professional Styling and Image training IRL. Spots are limited, so you’ll need to book a session.
The Institute is also offering two-day introductions to its styling course. Held twice in November, you’ll get the lowdown on ASI’s courses and styling methods. For more information, click here.
*Side note: everybody can wear bodycon and you absolutely should because you look amazing in it.