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    DOES WHAT YOU WEAR REALLY MATTER? THE PSYCHOLOGY of DRESSING WELL

    In the eyes of society, it is considered unfortunate to admit that yes, what you wear really does matter. But that doesn't mean it has to be a negative sentiment.

    The Former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, had then – and has since – stood as a feminist role model, advocate for poverty awareness, education, nutrition, and physical activity. And, almost simultaneously, she very quickly became a fashion icon.

    For eight years, Obama’s clothing became a hot topic for the world’s media. Her wardrobe became a strategic movement in and of itself. Within the presidential administration, clothing had developed a voice of its own. It allowed the world to see the strength and confidence that radiated from this passionate and philanthropic woman. She enjoyed fashion, permitting a wider celebration of fashion as a medium beyond frivolity. She championed a variety of fresh designers, celebrating their talents, whilst additionally hosting seminars in a fashion education workshop at the White House in 2014.

    More importantly, she offered women the beauty of choice: the beauty of choosing, as a woman, whether to show her upper arm or not; the beauty of choosing to adorn herself in every colour and every bold print; and the beauty of choosing to enjoy clothing both as expression and as art.

    Michelle Obama
    Michelle Obama
    Michelle Obama
    Michelle Obama

    Not conforming to a standard or to a perceived ideal, Michelle Obama created space for discussion surrounding fashion’s place within a society of women trying to climb the professional ladder, reaching for places only men could ever once stand. She also advocated for the #AskHerMore campaign, created to call out sexist reporting that merely focused on ‘traditionally’ female topics and suggest ways to focus first-and-foremost on women’s achievements.

    A wardrobe allows one to wear many hats. It can form the foundation of everything you do and feel and can affect the way you are seen by others. This is true regardless whether it’s a first interview or stepping off a stage for the tenth time having delivered a presentation.

    It would, therefore, be unwise to deny the link between our psychology and our physical appearance. Your own personal brand is important for how you carry yourself. Your own comfort is also equally important. The idea of ‘dressing well’ is, however, broad: some feel bold and brave in a coordinated trouser suit; others are at their best in a chiffon, floor-length dress, and a pair of statement shoes

    The judgmental aspect of society will never be eradicated: it is part of human nature. But if we begin to challenge the perception of fashion’s place in business, we may see that more relaxed, exciting, or personal choices taken with clothing could have a positive impact on a variety of professions. 

    Amal Alamuddin-Clooney

    There are times to break rules and address the seemingly inane formalities of a dress-code, whether implied, enforced, or a construct of society – and now is exactly the right time. What you wear can both matter and not matter, in equal measure. The point is that it shouldn't matter. Becoming aware of how our clothes influence perceptions of us and the way we carry ourselves can benefit our output to the world, and thus, change the dialogue surrounding style and work.

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