Monday, 16 July 2012

Through the eyes of others!


The posting on first impressions has had a lovely response. Thank you!

These questions are about how people respond to your appearance or your perceived identity.

1) Do you think people misunderstand the messages clothing or body adornment may give? Can you give an example of when this may have happened to you?

2) Do you have any examples of when you thought you were sending message "A" such as “career focused” for example, and it was perceived by someone else as message "B", conservative and uptight?

3) How highly do you value the opinions of others in regard to the way you dress?

4) Can you describe any ways in which you might manipulate your image to please others?

5) What is your opinion of others who do this?

By responding through the comment box, you are confirming your responses may be used as part of a research project. Your name will not be used.

10 comments:

  1. 1) Absolutely, the messages are open to interpretation.
    2) Interpretation is affected just as much by the viewer's perceptions eg. I was visiting someone at a group activity for disadvantaged folk in West End after attending a work meeting in the city. I was creatively and certainly not expensively dressed but the outfit did look classic with a twist. The impression I gave the West End group was coloured by their resistance to the gentrification of their neighbourhood and their social position in that. The outfit looked expensive. I think it was more than just the same message not being received well. I think a different message was received.
    3) I am a bit anti-image. I don't like ticking boxes and being completely fashionable. I love beautiful things so sometimes my style appeals to others but often I do not follow trends and fail to get approval from those who care more than I about what's fashionable.
    4) I don't manipulate my image. I dress depending on how I feel.
    5) I admire much more people who dress with individual flair than those who are following trends.

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  2. Ah! I love the term anti-image...I picture an eclectic mix of design styles, a sort of come-hither-what may, but still the envy of those around you because you look so uniquely you! Can you tell what it means to you?

    It is said by fashion theorists that dressing in post-modernity is pastiche (insert smiley face here), taking various styles and combining them from a variety of ethnic sources and from many price points. The purpose of this style being to show our individuality and to not attach us to some type of social norm, like "middle class" or a subculture, like "goth". Any thoughts?

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    1. I don't always pull off "the envy of those around me" :) but dressing is more an expression of how I feel. Sometimes that's really great but can also be quite ordinary. Dressing to show you belong to a subculture is a bit like wearing a uniform? Maybe my conservative clothes are the uniform I retreat to. Much better the bold days when I wear pieces I love!

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  3. 1) Do you think people misunderstand the messages clothing or body adornment may give? Can you give an example of when this may have happened to you?

    They way I dress has always revolved around how I want to be perceived by others. I used to dress outlandishly because I wanted people to be drawn to me because of my clothes and I wanted to be noticed for my clothes. This was when I was skinny. I now refuse to wear anything that might make people think I am anything less than super fit because I want to be noticed for my physique. If I dress too fashionably I fear people will see me as a fashionable person and not see my physique. Sometimes I will wear something a little out there like crazy sneakers or a crazy jacket and I am scared someone will see me and not recognize that I usually look different. Someone, a stranger, who I would otherwise love to impress. I don’t think I worry people will misunderstand the message my clothing gives but I’m aware certain clothing sends certain messages. I would probably be concerned about people misunderstanding the message my clothing says if I wasn’t so confident I knew the exact image I was portraying with any outfit.

    2) Do you have any examples of when you thought you were sending message "A" such as “career focused” for example, and it was perceived by someone else as message "B", conservative and uptight?

    Sometimes I am concerned when getting dressed that I might be too literal. Eg/ sneakers, basketball jersey and gym shorts might look like I am actually going to play basketball instead of dressing casually in a basketball jersey. I sort this out before leaving the house though.

    3) How highly do you value the opinions of others in regard to the way you dress?

    As I said in question 1) I am very conscious of how I am perceived and how people see me and my physique with the way I dress. I don’t value the opinions on my style of dress or particular garments instead of value how I am perceived by others for what I wear or don’t wear.

    4) Can you describe any ways in which you might manipulate your image to please others?

    As a gay male I definitely dress very masculine and normal in order to appeal to a certain type of person. More to the point appear to what I think a certain person would be attracted to.

    5) What is your opinion of others who do this?

    I think most people do this. It is how inconspicuously they do it that determines whether they look like/are perceived to be a total wanker.

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  4. 3) How highly do you value the opinions of others in regard to the way you dress?
    I love it when I get compliments, but I don't dress to engineer compliments.

    4) Can you describe any ways in which you might manipulate your image to please others?
    I tend to modify what I'm wearing when I know I'm going to see my mother. Mum has a history of being subtly critical of my outfits ("knit dresses tend to make all but the thinnest women look dumpy, don't you think?" Owtch).

    Other than that, it's not so much about dressing to 'please' others - I dress (i) to please myself, and (2) it's also very important to me to project a certain image. Thankfully, my two priorities are often in sync :-)

    5) What is your opinion of others who do this?
    I think it's entirely ubiquitous and normal. I hope they're not JUST manipulating their image to please others though - it's so much fun to experiment with different looks and the different feelings that go with the different looks.

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  5. Two really helpful responses to questions about perceived identity. Anon 1 has introduced body image in to the mix, and yes, I think that is such a key factor of how confidently we may approach clothes. In some cases, they, clothes have the power to transform our ideas about ourselves, don't you think? Think of children feeling invincible when wearing super-hero costumes.

    And anon two, nothing can be more cutting than a snide(albeit without intent to offend us) comment. I have the most amazing knit top I bought about 15 years ago in Century 21 NYC. It's colourful and funky and I always felt unique and comfortable in it, until one day, wearing it to work, one lady said, "Oh Deb, that top makes you look like you are breastfeeding!" Somehow, my playful, funky top was delegated to the back of the wardrobe, never to be worn again. It's still there by the way! And I agree, it isn't as much that I valued her style opinion, it was more that something I really loved had been criticized.

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  6. How highly do you value the opinions of others in regard to the way you dress?
    for me, it's a lovely boost when I receive a compliment and can make a day or evening all the more enjoyable.
    however I remember "altering" my school uniform and the look of horror, swiftly followed by anger on my Mum's face. as a teenager that could have been the response I wanted but of course now having children of my own .......please forgive me Mum.
    I do still ask/confere with friends about what the dress code is for a particular occasion. its fun.
    I trust my daughter's opinion (she is 20 years old), not the "does my bum look too big in this?" but "do you like this on me?".
    so in answer to the question above. I have a few people in my life who's opinion I value very highly with regards to the way I dress. I'm sure I'm not alone.

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    1. yep, sometimes the school uniform and all it represents is our first chance to control our appearance. I love the notion that this could have been rebellion. or then again it maybe wasn't!

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  7. 1) Do you think people misunderstand the messages clothing or body adornment may give? Can you give an example of when this may have happened to you? Yes, definitely. I work in a very conservative company, complete with dress code. It's also a male-dominated industry. Therefore if you are not male and wearing a grey business suit & tie, the options for people formulating an opinion about you are almost limitless. If I wear a suit (I am female, by the way), my hair in a sensible bun, sensible shoes and sensible jewellery, I have found that it makes very little difference than times where I wear my own designs & keep my piercings in. In a corporate environment, conformity and conservatism are expected. Even if you do so, you are likely to be perceived as one rung lower on the scale merely by being female. So, I have fun with what I wear instead, and let people think of me as they will. My work and professional attitude usually are sufficient to gain respect.

    2) Do you have any examples of when you thought you were sending message "A" such as “career focused” for example, and it was perceived by someone else as message "B", conservative and uptight? Ummm... not really. I am quite comfortable with how I look (mostly), and tend to be aware in advance whether what I am wearing will be perceived differently by different audiences (eg a typical work outfit was looked at as being quite snobbish on a recent trip out into the suburbs... but I had to go back to the office so needed to dress appropriately for there, even though I knew I would stand out). I think if this is something that concerns people then they could ask themselves "If I saw this outfit on a person in the street, what would I think?"

    3) How highly do you value the opinions of others in regard to the way you dress? At the risk of sounding completely bloody minded... not all that highly. I design and make all my own clothes, have a fairly good idea of what suits me (even though I will still make some sartorial faux pas), and when I dress for myself I am more comfortable than if I dress for someone else. While I value the opinions of other people who design and sew, I don't really obsess about whether everyone likes what I am wearing.

    4) Can you describe any ways in which you might manipulate your image to please others? I am more likely to wear plastic dinosaurs in my hair to a board meeting that tone things down to please someone! Which is essentially the same behaviour, only on the other side of the coin. More of a brash statement of "this is me, deal with it" than a conciliatory "please be nice, I am trying to fit in". Both behaviours are designed to elicit a change in others... whether it is favourable or designed to make people sit up and pay attention. What I would NOT do is wear an outfit which portrays an untruth image of who I am eg I would not suddenly start wearing baggy jeans and a backwards baseball cap, even if it would be to my benefit... To me that would be assuming a false persona, portraying myself as someone I am not, and ultimately lying to both myself and those around me. Who knew clothes could make such powerful statements!

    5) What is your opinion of others who do this? As I have said, I think most people will do this to a certain degree. I think when it becomes a role you assume (like an actor putting on a costume) is when it becomes a little peculiar.

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  8. Firstly, can I just thank you for your enthusiastic and open response to the questions posted,these are both extremely helpful, and very insightful. Much appreciated!
    Answers to 4 are very true,and you have captured the essence of my research in this answer. How we can both manipulate and create a look to help us achieve "something" is a fascinating human trait. It seems we have moved far away from using clothes to signify our religious, ethnic or political beliefs, and have instead allowed them power to speak for us, and show part of our very unique self..."like an actor putting on a costume".

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