Friday, 12 October 2012

Clothing Psychology: Wardrobe Malfunctions

Choices: Why is that in your closet?

Closet Content Analysis: Underlying Psychology of Wardrobe Choices
"What you wear reveals more about your inner turmoil than you think, says Jennifer Baumgartner, a psychologist whose Washington, D.C., practice involves making house calls to analyze wardrobes." (The Clothes Psychologist is In by Julia McKinnell, Monday, April 30, 2012; Retrieved October 8, 2012 from
I once read about a psychologist who claimed he could determine one's personality type by analyzing how that person prepared an orange for eating and then how he or she ate it. This pop psychology is entertaining at the most; but because it comes to us in simplistic terms and watered-down analysis, it can mislead. Is Baumgartner reverting to "pop" psychology in her closet analysis or can our closets be used accurately for psychoanalysis? In Baumgartner's examples, as revealed in McKinnell's article, various manifestations occur: ". . . closet dysmorphia (oversized clothing on small bodies) . . . women who dress like teenagers . . .  swap(ped) maternal roles for friendship roles with their daughters . . . (and a) wardrobe stuck in adolescence because (of) . . . adolescent trauma issues". As a psychologist, she clarifies that, 
". . . my psychological practice and treatment is separate from my wardrobe consultations. My wardrobe consultations are informed by psychology, but I only work with the internal as it relates to shopping, dressing, and organizing/storing behaviors when acting as a consultant." (Retrieved October 9, 2012 from Comments to The Clothes Psychologist is In,
Even though she claims that her psychological practice and treatment is separate from (her) wardrobe consultation, her assessment about women who dress like teenagers and unresolved trauma issues sounds like psychoanalysis.

On that note, you can attempt a little closet-analysis to "discover yourself" and attempt a bit of self-analysis for fun.

Here are some wardrobe malfunctions and possible strategies to deal with them. I won't even begin to try to suggest any psychological underpinnings.

No Thanks: 5 Wardrobe Malfunctions 

Wardrobe Malfunction 1: The majority of your clothing is black and you do not profess to being a "goth".
Solution: Cheap colourful t-shirts. Introduce yourself and your wardrobe to colour. I bought a 3.90Euro cobalt blue t-shirt last week at LeClerc (a grocery/department store in France) to see if I liked the colour well enough on me to warrant buying something more expensive in that colour. With that in mind, if you are shy of colours, this is a perfect way to introduce it into your wardrobe. You can always cover it up with a black cardigan and just show tiny hints of it until you are confident enough to wear a vibrant block of colour! Why you're not wearing vibrant colours in the first place, is your business. Remember, I promised not to do any amateur psychoanalysis.

Wardrobe Malfunction 2: There are three different sizes in your closet. (I believe I've admitted to this in a past post.)
Solution: Give away, take to the consignment store or pack away any clothing that does not fit. Choose what fits you - not too tight, not too short, not so baggy; all that is too tight, too short and too baggy should be out of sight, out of mind. The small clothes will depress you, reminding you to lose 20 pounds/7 kilos/whatever - and the big clothes will frustrate you, reminding you of all that money spent and now they're too big. Living in the moment is healthy for your mind-full-ness.

Wardrobe Malfunction
3: Novelty clothing or the clothing in your closet is "too young" for you. I want to clarify that "youthful" is acceptable but some stuff is just "too young" and probably outdated too. Novelty t-shirts should only be worn for those "special occasions" when they make sense. The pink rhinestone-studded "this is the bride" t-shirt was fine at the bachelorette party but it's done and should be passed on to another bride-to-be.
Solution: If you are reading this post, you are probably old enough to give away or throw away any t-shirt with princess references, "cute" rhinestone-studded sayings or what you think are clever quips, that are positioned strategically on your buttocks or upon your chest.

Wardrobe Malfunction 4: Cheap sexy. Your closet is overwrought with "cheap sexy" - midriff skimming tops, plunging necklines, too short skirts with too long slits, see-through fabrics.
Solution: Keep "sexy" but only to one item per wear and for evening. Keep the plunging neckline but wear it with a pair of pants. Wear a modest top with a long skirt that has a sexy slit. It's overdone when you have the plunging neckline and the slit up to there. Do the bend over test for your short skirts - remember the "bow-wow" rule - if you bow and everyone behind you says, "wow"", the skirt is too short. Sit, stand, bend over, walk - to make sure that you will not be tugging down on your skirt with every move. Keep the "sexy" that accentuates your best feature but remember appropriateness. You'll feel more confident flaunting your best feature; whereas you'll probably be uncomfortable managing all the "sexy" going on when you overdo it.

Wardrobe Malfunction 5: Clothing in need of repair. The clothing in your closet is missing buttons, has sagging hemlines, seams have come undone and you have resorted to pinning your pants up with safety pins.
Solution: Throw anything shabby away - Goodwill doesn't want it either. Find a tailor or do it yourself but assign a time on your calendar to "fix up" those "fixable" items in your wardrobe.

Well, have you figured out the psychological underlying factors to your wardrobe malfunctions?

Julia McKinnell concludes her piece on Baumgardner's work by writing that . . . "identifying internal reasons for clothing choices helps improve your wardrobe and can change your life". (Retrieved October 9, 2012 from

Hmm? Interesting; perhaps; perhaps not.


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