Why do you wear what you wear ?

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300px Two models wearing Oka Diputra clothes at a show in Tokyo%2C Japan   20100326 Why do you wear what you wear ?

Before we started wearing clothes, our ancestors use to roam around the Earth in their birthday suits. Clothes, or rather the activity of covering oneself with stuff was more because of their functional value of protecting them. Protecting; from the natural elements, like heat, cold, rain as well as to camouflage them from the wild animals (which incidentally served the purpose of our ancestors not being on the menu of their buffet parties).

With time as we settled down and created societies, certain norms were shaped to maintain balance in the society. Roaming around naked, once part of our ancestral haute couture, became a mark of impertinence. (Excuse my stating the obvious here !!)

Clothes today, though, serve yet another purpose (it’s actually the primary purpose now). It has become a way to project our inner–self, our feelings, moods, desires, etc. onto the real-world physical selves of us.

There is a theory called, The Theory of Forms, which is based on the great Greek philosopher Plato’s work. This theory is premised on the idea that our minds conjure up ideal images of everything that surrounds us and when we come across the real-world manifestation of the same, our minds try to project the mental image (the ideal one) of that object onto the real-world manifestation and any difference between the two causes dissonance. The ideal form, it is argued, is not only an image but it actually exists; though it is not conventionally perceivable by any of our senses.

In easier terms, when you go to buy a dress in a shopping mall, the idea has already taken shape as to what that dress should look like. It doesn’t stop there. You have also formed the idea how should you look like wearing that dress. You come back home and check that dress on yourself in front of the mirror. Now no matter how convoluted the last paragraph read, you do what The Theory of Forms say, you compare your image in the mirror with that dress to the mental (ideal) image of yourself wearing that dress. If it fits closer to that ideal image of yours, your dress finds a place in your wardrobe and if not, then the hassle of exchange starts.

The clothes one wears occupy a very narrow frontier which separates our mental images of ourselves to the real-world physical selves. How many times have you picked up clothes because it “so seems you” or exchange the clothes as it was “so not you”. You can’t really express at times what exactly is it that you hate about certain clothes, but you do feel it inside as to why you do. This is your brain telling you that there is a large inconsistency between how you thought those clothes to be and how they actually are.

Going by the same framework, which tells you so much about how we decipher and experience the real-world, it can be construed that there should also exist and Ideal Form of You…

Since this article has already become a bit too lengthy, I would tell you more about this in the next part and would try to show as to how modern day advertising of the various brands play tricks on the subconscious to manipulate the Ideal Form of You so that you can by their products to “express your individuality by wearing what was made in a factory in some remote corner of the world”


 Why do you wear what you wear ?