The Psychology of Fashion Blog™ Founder Shakaila Forbes-Bell was interviewed for CNN's Colorscope -an award-winning series exploring our perception of color and its use across cultures, one shade at a time. It's latest featured surrounded Fashions current IT-Colour 'Safety Orange', the focus of our current Colour Psychology Style Edit.
.... It is also considered a transitional color because it is associated with the change in season. Fashion psychologist and blogger Shakaila Forbes-Bell said the color has gained a lot of interest in recent years. "We see safety orange, as it is titled, up and down the catwalks for spring and summer 2018 especially in the New York shows like Tom Ford, Calvin Klein and Rihanna's Fenty Puma," she said. Forbes-Bell said it's not surprising that orange is having a revival.
My journey into the field of Fashion Psychology officially began when I was accepted onto the Masters programme at University of the Arts London: London College of Fashion (LCF) in 2014. Since graduating and founding The Psychology of Fashion Blog™, I have been inundated with questions about the course, mostly from people who are unsure if they have the right background to be accepted. Luckily, LCF have since created an undergraduate version of the degree and I spoke to the course leader Dr Aurora Paillard who revealed how the course is going from strength to strength and how you can get a BSc in Psychology of Fashion
Shakaila: What inspired you to join London College of Fashion as the BSc Psychology for Fashion Professionals course leader?
Dr Aurora Paillard: I have always been fascinated by Psychology and intrigued by the mysterious world of Fashion. Working at London College of Fashion was a dream for me as I’ve been able to learn and observe Fashion in one of the best Fashion universities, while being able of using my knowledge in Psychology. I feel incredibly lucky and grateful to work in an amazing subject, surrounded by successful colleagues and in such great institution. I particularly like the idea of becoming the Course Leader of the first and unique undergraduate course of Psychology of Fashion.
What can potential students gain from a bachelor’s degree in Psychology for Fashion Professionals that they couldn’t from a pure Psychology degree?
At the end of the BSc (Hons) Psychology of Fashion, the students will have gained the same knowledge and skills that bachelors from a pure Psychology degree. On top of these Psychology skills, they will know how to applied these skills to the fascinating word of Fashion and would have spent three years evolving as a Psychology student in one of the most amazing Fashion nest, London College of Fashion.
What type of research are current students producing?
Students (and staff) are producing a very large panel of research where we apply any Psychology concept (Biological Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Social Psychology, Mental Health) to Fashion. As an example, we’ve been running these projects since this September:
– Are people ready for Unisex clothing?
– The digital coming out: can Fashion and Social media help people with their coming out?
– Sensory integration in store: is there a link between brand equity and the use of senses in Fashion stores.
– Body image in people over 60 years old
– Well-being in Fashion students
What type of career can a degree in Psychology for Fashion lead to?
It is envisaged that graduates from this course and those who continue onto the MSc, will be highly sought across the fashion industry. They will possess the skills, knowledge and, moreover, the aptitude demanded by employers. Psychology is the scientific study of human behaviour so it can be applied in all contexts across the fashion industries and beyond. Some examples of potential graduate destinations are:
– a creative service-based industry which may be physical or virtual, start up or mature
– an entrepreneurial role in an existing organisation
– a business development role using in retail, design, production or media
– working in Research and Development in a leadership/management role within service and design-led industries
– a leadership/management role within an existing business or group
– establishing a new business venture
As the BSc (Hons) Psychology of Fashion is accredited by the British Psychology Society as an undergraduate course, the bachelor will be eligible (if they obtained a 2.1) to the Graduate Basis Charter Membership, which is the first step in becoming a Chartered member (i.e. a Psychologist). The BSc (Hons) Psychology of Fashion would be the most suitable undergraduate qualification in order to apply for a MSc related to Consumer Psychology and then become a Consumer Psychologist. Like any other BSc Psychology course, the BSc (Hons) Psychology of Fashion bachelors would be able to apply to any MSc Psychology in order to become Psychologist.
Can you give us a breakdown of what the course consists of?
The BSc (Hons) Psychology of Fashion breaks new ground. Students will learn how to apply psychological science in the context of fashion to enable an evidence-based understanding of human behaviour across the broad spectrum of the fashion industry. The scientific discipline of Psychology equips graduates with an extremely rich and diverse portfolio of skills and knowledge that gives them a distinct edge in the employment and entrepreneurial markets of the fashion and related industries. The curriculum sits at the forefront of knowledge demanded by the fashion industry, which is increasingly concerned with enhancing the human aspects of its provision. The BSc is a three-year course:
Year 1 (level 4)
The Introduction to Psychology of Fashion unit aims to introduce you to your course and its subject specialism, as well as to effective learning and studentship at undergraduate level. It will orientate you to the practices and knowledge base needed to understand your discipline. Students come from many diverse educational backgrounds and a part of this unit will enable to reflect on your own background and how that shapes the way you approach your course.
The Applications of Psychology in Fashion unit will consider how the application of psychology can make a positive difference in the fashion industries in general and in fashion business in particular. You will study theories and concepts from the core areas of psychology including individual differences, biological, cognitive, emotional, social, lifespan psychology, and discuss their application to develop solutions to real life issues in fashion.
Philosophy and Ethics in Research unit acknowledges the study and application of ethics is a fundamental component of any psychology programme. You will learn the fundamental elements of conducting research with human participants from philosophical and ethical perspectives. In doing so, you will understand how to adopt an ethical approach to conducting research in fashion business, and why a particular method of data analysis is preferable to another as a tool to interpret your results.
Introduction to Cultural & Historical Studies unit introduces the Cultural and Historical Studies approach to fashion and related areas. The unit provides a broad overview of the subject and introduces key concepts and ways of thinking that will form the basis of subsequent study. It will also inform decisions regarding the Cultural and Historical Studies unit that is chosen for future study.
The Collaborative Project unit introduces you to the research skills needed to understand human behaviour within the context of fashion and business. This unit will give you the opportunity to work collaboratively to identify an area of fashion business that interests you, and to investigate the links between your chosen topic and psychology. This will allow you to consolidate the knowledge and skills that you have already acquired, give you the opportunity to conduct research, and develop working relationships that are essential for employability.
Year 2 (level 5)
Cognition in Design and Innovation unit looks at cognitive psychology, which is concerned with how we make sense of the world from sensation, through perception, emotion, creativity, memory, thinking and reasoning, and communication. In this unit you will learn about the influence of cognitive processes on design and innovation using the concept of design thinking, which applies empathy and creativity to generate potential solutions to a given problem. You will gain understanding of how the processes and methods used in design to solve problems can lead to enhanced design practice and improved communication with designers.
The Fashion and Wellbeing unit is concerned with the concepts and theories of psychological wellbeing as applied in the context of fashion. It explores individual, societal and global issues including identity and body image, appearance and judgement, fashion and the environment, and the impact of technology. You will develop a strategy for enhancing your own wellbeing.
The Cultural & Historical Studies Option will be able to study a Cultural and Historical Studies option of your choice that will broaden and deepen your learning of areas relating to your interests in your chosen field. You will have the opportunity to participate in lectures, seminars and workshops with students from other courses within your School, and will read relevant academic texts and complete a formal academic essay for assessment.
The Consumer Psychology unit introduces you to concepts of consumer behaviour and psychology through investigation of how and why we buy fashion goods and services. You will investigate how consumer identity is formed, and develop your understanding of fashion psychographics and cross-cultural values and how these may inform fashion marketing practices. You will apply market research methods and evaluate consumer behaviour in different parts of the world.
In the Consultancy Project you will learn how to make effective decisions regarding which research methodologies are most appropriate given a particular research question. You will develop practical analysis skills through designing an investigation, collecting, exploring, analysing and interpreting data appropriately using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS), or qualitative methods of analysis and interpretation. You will then carry out and write up a negotiated consultancy project in the context of fashion business.
Year 3 (Level 6)
In Future Thinking unit you will apply the knowledge and skills from Years 1 and 2 to critically appraise current fashion business in the context of product development and marketing, including cost-benefit analysis, affordances and the human/technology interface. You will apply strategic thinking to propose feasible future scenarios for an ethical and sustainable fashion industry.
Social Sustainability and Business Psychology unit explores how human resources need to be sustained and used effectively in the same way as other tangible and intangible organisational resources. You will examine the links between employee psychological wellbeing and motivation, productivity and innovation. You will learn how to prioritise employee wellbeing through workplace initiatives, and how to evaluate their effectiveness. In addition, you will study the role of psychology in the workplace including group and team behaviour, theories of leadership and management, communication and performance management.
The Final Major Project is a major piece of work and the culmination of your degree. It provides you with the opportunity to demonstrate the knowledge and skills acquired through your work on the course. Although this is an independent piece of work, you will be allocated a supervisor who will support and guide you through tutorials.
What are the minimum requirements for being accepted onto the course?
The standard minimum entry requirements for this course are:
Three A Level Passes at Grade B or above; preferred subjects include: sociology, biology, mathematics, English, philosophy, economics, politics, business studies and psychology (please note, Psychology A level needs to be passed at C or above).
or Distinction, Distinction, Merit at BTEC Extended Diploma (Preferred subjects) Art & Design;
or Distinction Foundation Diploma in Art and Design;
or Merit at UAL Extended Diploma;
or Access Diploma or ’120 tariff points from the Access to HE Diploma;
or 120 new UCAS tariff points (equivalent to 300 old UCAS tariff points) from a combination of the above qualifications or an equivalent full Level 3 qualification;
or equivalent EU or non-EU qualifications;
or 25 IB points.
and Six GCSE passes at grade A*-C Maths and English.
How do you apply?
As a Home student, you can apply through the UCAS webpage, using the University code U65 and the UCAS course code C800. The initial UCAS deadline is 15th January 2018. As an International student, you can also apply through UCAS or directly through LCF
Dr Aurora Paillard
Dr Aurora Paillard is the Course Leader for BSc Psychology for Fashion. She obtained a Master and a PhD in Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience. She is a BPS Chartered member and HEA Senior Fellow. After obtaining her PhD at the University of Grenoble (France), Aurora did two postdoctoral positions (at the Polytechnic School of Lausanne, Switzerland and the University of Manchester) and a Teaching Fellow at the University of Besancon (France). She then became a Course Leader of two Psychology programs at the pen University. She has been working at London College of Fashion since September 2016 as a Senior Lecturer in Psychology and Course Leader of the BSc (Hons) Psychology of Fashion. She teaches Applied Psychology to Fashion, Cognition Psychology, Social Cognition and Research Methods. Her research interests involve social and cognitive features related to body perception, multisensory integration and consumer psychology.
How often do we think about cultural differences when it comes to choosing your wardrobe? What may be ‘fashion-forward’ in one culture can be nonsensical and even out-right offensive in another. This week, we’ve seen how a political fashion choice got pop-sensation Katy Perry denied entry into China and subsequently booted from performing at the 2017 Victoria Secret fashion show. Whilst freedom of speech and correspondingly freedom of dress is a cornerstone of American politics, in other countries, certain choices can be career-damaging. No matter which side of the political fence you choose to sit, Perry’s outlandish and often times thought provoking dress sense is certainly ‘on-brand’. However, many would argue that adopting a ‘culturally aware’ sense of style is essential in our ever-growing multicultural society.
Colour is a key component in our styling choices and is also one that is drenched in cultural significance. In the 2005 paper ‘Are you selling the right colour? A Cross-Cultural Review of Colour as A Marketing Cue’, Mubeen M. Aslam notes that colour “influences consumer perceptions and preferences, purchase and consumption behaviour, and helps companies (re) position or differentiate from the competition. However, the notion of colour universality is fraught with risk. Sometimes companies fail simply because of inappropriate choice of product or package colours”.
In the field of psychology, the modern doctrine of ‘Individual Differences’ discusses the importance of acknowledging both sociological and environmental factors that cause people to respond differently to certain stimuli. This Colour Psychology style edit is all about this seasons IT colour - orange and in conducting my research I was enthralled by the sheer magnitude of differences that exist between cultures and how one hue could be interpreted so broadly.
For example, in Japanese and Chinese cultures, orange is associated with courage, happiness, love, and good health (Huffington Post). In the Netherlands, orange is the colour of the Dutch Royal family and therefore signifies wealth and prestige (Shutterstock). In Indian cultures, orange is considered to be a lucky, auspicious and sacred colour (Empowered By Colour)
Luckily, orange can be considered as a positive colour in many cultures for varying different reasons. But what if I was to wear this orange suit from Misguided or this orange jacket from Puffa in a country that deemed the colour to be distasteful? Given that our clothes often speak for us before we get a chance to utter a single word, are culturally specific colour interpretations something we should start to take more seriously? Does Individual Differences have a place in styling?
Introducing Orange, the next colour in our Colour Psychology Style series. Hailed as the new ‘Millennial Pink’, ‘Safety Orange’ was seen up and down the catwalks for Spring Summer 18 especially within the New York shows like Tom Ford, Calvin Klein and Fenty Puma.
Many Psychologists believe that our emotional responses to colours stem from our learned experiences with them. However, it is also believed that the characteristics of colours evoke physiological responses. As you may know, colours are categorised according to wavelengths. Studies have shown that long wave-length colours like orange induce feelings of high arousal (Goldstein, 1942) which activates the ascending reticular activating system (ARAS) in the brain leading to increased heart rate, blood pressure, mobility and readiness to respond.
The aptly titled ‘Safety Orange’ most certainly gets its name from the use of the colour orange in uniforms worn by people working in potentially hazardous environments. In a study testing the visibility of safety clothing on the protection of personnel in highway construction, results indicated that participants detected another person significantly faster and from a father distance if they were wearing orange (more specifically red-orange) clothing (Turner, Simmons & Graham, 1997)
Whist it may not be your intention to emulate the style of construction workers, this research suggests that the colour orange literally has the power to stop people in their tracks. It’s a show-stopping hue that you should definitely add to your wardrobe for those moments when you intend on making a splash and want all eyes on you.
In fact, when I was shooting this entire orange edit I did get a host of lovely compliments from passing-by pedestrians that I am sincerely attributing to the attention-grabbing effect of the colour. This burnt-orange Kimono Sleeve Shift Dress from Missguided was one of my favourite pieces to shoot as it is true to size and has a subtle cowl neck front which I appreciate as any lower (which seems to be the norm these days) I felt, would have compromised the overall look. All-round, 10/10.
Do you have many orange pieces in your wardrobe? What are your general impressions of the colour?
Many stylists will tell you that vertical stripes have a slimming effect. Scientific research has proven this assumption to be false.
“Shakaila you really should wear vertical instead of horizontal stripes, you already have large breasts”.
I’ve received many a criticism in my 24 years of life but this one stuck with me ever since I heard it from a well-meaning colleague about 4 years ago. At the time, I never really realised the true extent of my love of stripes. Half of my wardrobe consisted of some sort of striped pattern – strangely most of them horizontal. Would I have to part with my penchant for the simple and elegant pattern because it made me look disproportionally large? I finally ended this rather nonessential period of contemplation upon discovering that the demonization of horizontal stripes is nothing but an old wife’s tale.
It’s a commonly held belief that when it comes to clothing, horizontal stripes have a widening effect. If you have a larger bottom half, stylists such as TV Personality Gok Wan recommend that a horizontal striped top will help to “balance you out” by broadening your chest to match.
However, research suggests that horizontal stripes have the complete opposite effect. In 1925, Hermann von Helmholtz created the Helmholtz illusion. He composed an image with two squares containing equally spaced stripes - one with vertical stripes and the other, horizontal. As shown in the image below, the square containing horizontal lines appears taller and narrower than the identical square made up of vertical lines. This illusion occurs because horizontal stripes have more “filled space” from top to bottom thus making it look taller and thinner than the same-sized square.
Moreover, research has found that the illusion holds when applied to the body. A 2011 study found that when participants observed pictures of identical mannequins wearing horizontal and vertical striped clothing, the mannequin wearing horizontal stripes “needed to be 10.7% broader to be perceived as identical to the one in vertical stripes” (Thompson & Mikellidou).
Given the near century old history of the Helmholtz illusion it’s unclear how the ‘Horizontal lines make you look fat’ trope has managed to gain such a reputation.
Styling is as much of an art form as it is a science so before you cast out a portion of your wardrobe – check the data.
A post shared by Suzy Menkes (@suzymenkesvogue) on
Psychology suggests that experiencing physical warmth promotes interpersonal warmth. A neat trick to increase sales? Hmm we see you Phoebe.
9. The effortlessness of Stella Mc Cartney
The sustainable designer has got casual luxury down to a science
8. Valentino’s space inspired collection
Elon Musk is pretty close to creating a commercial rocket to Mars so Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli just had to make sure we humans make a fashionable first impression.
7. Alexander McQueen revamping the Mac
This classic piece was in dire need of an update
6. Balenciaga’s killer heels
No, Literally. One miss-step and these heels could be behind some police tape. No one said fashion was safe.
5. According to Givenchy, Fanny Packs are back
No pockets, no problem
4. Fringe fantastic at Elie Saab
Adding fringe to a look instantly adds drama.
3. Canerows on the runway at Off-White
It may seem trivial but seeing this hairstyle, one that is so grounded in culture, one that is often deemed as ‘unprofessional’ and ‘ghetto’, strutting down a runway in Paris makes our hearts sing. Thank you Virgil.
2. Rick Owens doing Rick Owens
Answer: Rick Owens Question: How far can one push the aesthetic
1. Every single look at Balmain
Everything Olivier Rousteing turns to gold. Waiting for the see-through mac to hit the high street in 3, 2, 1..
And 1 thing we didn’t like
1. The continued lack of diversity at Comme des Garçons
An array of blue fish, yellow suns, playing cards, butterflies, nectarines and multi-coloured flowers sounds garish on paper but it definitely worked on the runway.
9. Sticking with D&G and the return of models
Don’t get us wrong, we loved the #DGMillennials Fall 2017 show which showcased the best and brightest insta-stars but we’re happy to see the return of fresh model talent on the runway.
8. The return of 80s Power Dressing at Gucci
80s style shoulder pads give the impression of broad shoulders and subsequently create a more masculine frame. Its unsurprising that they were all the rage during a period where women were edging higher up the ranks in the male-dominated workforce. Could Gucci’s revival of shoulder-pads be a comment on this current third-wave of the feminist movement?
7. Prada carried on the theme of female empowerment with the military-style show
In speaking about her latest Prada stated,
I am suggesting militant women in a very practical way… through clothes, which is what I do.” [Vogue Runway]
6. Creative Cut-Outs at Fendi
Who knew under-boob could look so chic?
5. Moschino’s Punk Princesses
Feathers? Leather? Sequins? Fishnets? Yes please.
4. Short Hair Don't Care
According to the Milan shows now is the perfect time to schedule that big chop you’ve been putting off.
3. Emilio Pucci takes Lounge Wear…To the extreme
Walking out of the house with a towel wrapped around your head? Don’t worry darling its fashion.
2. Mismatched Jewellery at Roberto Cavalli
The days of lamenting over losing one of my earrings are long behind me.
1. Everything at Versace
Dontella celebrated the life of her late brother Gianni Versace in the best way possible by reviving some of his most legendary looks. The return of 90s supermodels Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Carla Bruni, and Helena Christensen will go down as ‘a moment’ in fashion history. I’m also certain that sales of anti-wrinkle cream soared after this show - those goddesses are ageless!
We got the opportunity to speak to esteemed Fashion Psychologist Karen Pine. We asked her everything from how to effectively cultivate a personal style to what it takes to make it in the field of Fashion Psychology.
What does The Psychology of Fashion mean to you?
It means applying the scientific rigour of psychology to the understanding of a ubiquitous area of human behaviour, clothing, why we wear what we wear and what effect it has on us and on others around us.
Do you think there’s a link between personal style and mental health?
Absolutely. Our clothes reflect our mental state (i.e. whether we are happy or depressed), they also influence our mental state. That means we can put on something that will either boost our mood and make us feel happy and confident or have the opposite effect.
What is the best way for someone to cultivate a strong personal style?
To cultivate a strong personal style we need to constantly find ways of keeping it fresh and not get stuck in a clothes rut. Be adventurous, wear something that expresses your personality, don't just wear what's in fashion (it may not suit you), experiment a little and ask other people for feedback.
What is the main thing that drives our clothing choices?
We are creatures of habit so we tend to stick to what we know and usually buy clothes that are similar to what we already have. We may have hang-ups about particular styles, shapes or colours that come from childhood, from bad memories or from what others have said to us, and these can limit our choices and hold us back. Unfortunately we also too often let fashion editors and marketers dictate our clothing choices, because they are in the business of taking our money they put us under a lot of pressure to feel we 'have' to have the latest look.
Since entering the field of Fashion Psychology, you have published papers, written books and worked with various brands and designers. What advice would you give to someone hoping to make a career in Fashion Psychology?
There is no real career path in fashion psychology - you won't find it mentioned when training to be a psychologist. I would say hone your academic skills first, get a good psychology degree and a post-graduate qualification, conduct robust research and look for opportunities to apply what you know.
What do you think the future holds for the field of Fashion Psychology?
The outlook is positive because the fashion world is waking up to the fact that clothes don't just have to look good they have to make us feel good too. We are all becoming more emotionally intelligent, demanding greater happiness and wellbeing in our lives, therefore fashion psychology can contribute to those lifestyle aspirations.