Sunday 4 December 2016

The knowledge: How to be thoughtful about fashion

Caryn Franklin

Published 18/05/2015 | 02:30

If a brand doesn't show an understanding of your needs as a woman, then don't spend money on it. Photo: Deposit
If a brand doesn't show an understanding of your needs as a woman, then don't spend money on it. Photo: Deposit

The beauty expert says listening to your instincts can help you make the right choices.

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Listen to your instincts

The psychoanalyst Susie Orbach says that when you are shown something over and over again, it becomes normalised. In the fashion industry, there is a proliferation of normalised standards, including unachievable body ideals and hyper-sexualisation. It is important to listen to your instincts and to question a brand if its message doesn't feel right. If it doesn't show an understanding of your needs as a woman, don't put any more money into its CEO's pocket. Listening to your gut will help you access your own personal authenticity. You are the best judge of the way you look, based on what feels great and gives you pleasure and confidence.

Show off your identity

Clothes can help other people to read us. Write a list of empowering words that you feel embody you. My sisters would each choose very different words: one would choose: 'soft, 'feminine', 'comfortable', while the other might choose 'sporty', 'bold', and 'powerful'. Then, think about what these words look like. Choose images that capture your words best, and use these to create a mood board to stick inside your wardrobe door. Have some fun with it. Your wardrobe can become your entry to being that person.

Recognise the power of clothes

Studies show that when we wear a uniform, we take on the attributes of that uniform. So, if you select workwear that appears powerful, authoritative or bold, you will be likely to take on those qualities. Similarly, holiday clothing that is playful or spontaneous can help us feel that way - which is why women love shopping for holidays or downtime. The key is recognising the situations that require these different types of clothing.

Choose quality

Quality is not only about amazing fabrics, beautiful design or enlightened marketing; it should also be about the production chain. When you are purchasing items, ask: "Who made this and what is the quality of their life?" One of the exciting things about fashion now is the rise of young creatives who are building small businesses, and who want to be in touch with their customers, make their products on their own machines and pay a decent wage. My Nahui Ollin bag - which was made by a women's collective in Mexico from recycled toffee wrappers and barcodes - means so much more to me than any other bag. Buying items with more integrity is a lovely way to move the fashion industry forward.

Find stories in vintage

For me, vintage is a fabulous way to engage with the magic and stories behind clothing. I love thinking about who has worn a garment and what it meant to them. People are always intrigued when I wear one of my party dresses made out of recycled men's suits. Vintage also gives you the opportunity to be unique and distinctive.

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