What Your Wardrobe Says About You, According to a Psychologist

Considering how much of an important part fashion plays in the lives of millions, the specific psychology of it is a relatively new field of research. But at the beginning of the year, one can't help thinking of wardrobe clearouts, style-overs or simply getting that workwear closet in good shape. So is your actual wardrobe giving off signs (good or bad)?

We drilled our most knowledgeable source for fashion psychology, Dr. Carolyn Mair, a chartered psychologist who, as the London College of Fashion's reader of psychology, has established the world's first courses for this subject at the school. Using empirical evidence, there are conclusions that can potentially be drawn from that pile of clothes languishing on your floor or the fact you keep original designer hangers.

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"There are many potential problems with buying clothes every time you see something you like," Mair tells us. "One of them is the scenario above. Although this person really enjoys shopping, they don't make wise shopping choices so their wardrobe lacks coordination. They also dislike throwing anything away; they're sure they will wear it one day. This person is likely to be persuaded by bargains and probably buys more than they need in sales. They might struggle to make decisions and agonise every morning over what goes with what."

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"This arrangement would predict an organised and creative personality in a person who values appearance over functionality," says Mair. "They may derive pleasure simply from looking at a colour-organised wardrobe. In addition, this approach can be a great way of realising how many items you have in a particular colour!"

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"Hmm! Unfortunately this type of behaviour suggests a rather disorganised approach, which is likely to be evident in other aspects of life," Mair shares. "This person is quite likely to perceive themselves as very busy; however, if they were more organised, they'd have more time for other potentially more interesting or important tasks. This person is more likely to be late for (or even miss) appointments partly due to not being able to find or remember the location of vital information, clothing or objects."

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"This person is organised and takes care of their clothing (and likely other possessions) to try to maintain them in mint condition," says Mair. "For this person, the buying experience is important and the original packaging can help recall the positive emotion experienced on buying the much-wanted item."

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"Taking a functional approach like this can help reduce stress as particular items of clothing will be easier to locate. This type of person is concerned with basics, is likely to be down to earth and practical and is willing to invest time in advance to reap benefits later."

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"This person is likely to be organised in many aspects of their life, but organising your wardrobe by season could be a necessity arising from a lack of wardrobe space. Putting away last season’s clothing carefully suggests fondness for the previous season and optimism for the coming season."

Next up! How to build a capsule wardrobe that will last a lifetime.

Opening Image: Phill Taylor

Hannah Almassi
Editor in Chief

Hannah Almassi is the Editor in Chief of Who What Wear UK. Hannah has been part of the the Who What Wear brand since 2015, when she was headhunted to launch the UK sister site and social channels, implement a localised content strategy and build out the editorial team. She joined following a seven-year tenure at Grazia magazine, where she led front-of-book news, fashion features and shopping specials as fashion news and features editor. With experience in both print and digital across fashion and beauty, Hannah has over 16 years in the field as a journalist, editor, content strategist and brand consultant. Hannah has interviewed industry heavyweights such as designers including Marc Jacobs and Jonathan Anderson through to arbiters of taste including Katie Grand and Anna Dello Russo. A skilled moderator and lecturer specialising in the shift to digital media and e-commerce, Hannah’s opinion and work has been sought by the likes of CNBC, BBC, The Sunday Times Style, The Times, The Telegraph and MatchesFashion.com, among many others. Hannah is often called upon for her take on trends, becoming known as a person with their finger of the pulse of what’s happening in the fashion space for stylish Brits. Hannah currently resides in Eastbourne with her photographer husband, incredibly busy son and highly Instagrammable cat.