Clothes as Semaphores
We all know that clothes are more than clothes.
Yes, they protect you from the elements, keep you warm and dry.
But, as you also know, clothes are semaphores (apparatus to create a visual signal) for so much more. Fashion, the prevailing style of dress at any particular time, is used as messages and symbols that we all decode in an effort to understand who and what we are seeing. If you see a homeless person shuffling down the street in rags, you will interpret her differently from a woman wearing a smart, on-trend dress with hose and heels.
If a woman is carrying a (genuine) Louis Vuitton purse, it means she has a high degree of disposable income and wants to spend it on the best. A pair of jeans speaks a different but equally clear message. Casual, laid back, comfortable (except when there’s a designer label on them). A woman in pearls is seen and decoded differently than one in Goth makeup and dagger earrings. The woman with pearls is seen as a classic, traditional dresser with style. The Goth woman is seen as dark, counterculture, and a little scary.
What we choose to wear reflects how we see the world and how we want the world to see us. Whether it’s as someone cool and powerful who keeps up with all the trends, or as a street-style type who joins a march with her political beliefs emblazoned on her T-shirt.
Obviously, clothing codes are tied to historical fluctuations so what we thought was great last year now looks outdated. But the overriding power of fashion is that it is dual and opposite in nature: it symbolizes class and socio-economic status – dividing us into social groups – but it also somehow unites us because everyone, high or low, wears clothes.
Because clothing is a matter of taste and the ultimate in personal choice and is irrevocably tied to our need to express our individuality, it tells a story and it’s that story we all need to consider when we’re figuring out our own personal style. Because they are right next to our skin, clothes, faster than anything else, tell the story of who we are – or want to be.
Let’s face it, we all judge people by the way they dress, what house they live in and what car they drive. We shouldn’t, but we do it automatically, and that’s why what you wear matters. Each piece means something, and I believe it’s important to figure out what that is and what you want to say.
And color matters, too. Black speaks to minimalism and is an anti-color that gives people options. Blue is much more open, red might indicate an extrovert, and pink is the most romantic of colors on the spectrum. And of course, it’s essential to be aware of the meanings of particular colors, which vary a lot between different cultures. The late Vogue editor Diana Vreeland, for instance, once proclaimed, “Pink is the navy blue of India.”
At Lots of Luxe, our stylists can help you define and refine your personal look and ensure that what you wear will give the right impression to the right person. We can guide you on what trends work for you and help you choose clothing that truly reflects who you are. We love helping women delineate their wardrobe needs and look forward to working with you in the future.