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Shakaila Forbes-Bell

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Since Mel B implored us to tell her what we really really want, our interest in animal prints has never really subsided, at least the Spring Summer ’19 shows have confirmed as much.  Brognano, Michael Kors and Burberry were just a few designers to send models down the runway in stunning zebra, leopard and cow print designs and if that wasn’t enough to persuade you that animal print is having a moment, Rihanna turning up to the celebrate the anniversary of Fenty Beauty in Sydney earlier this month wearing a head to toe snakeskin Atelier Versace outfit surely is. Animal print has a pretty extensive history dating back to ancient Africa in its use exclusively by leaders and royalty alike and since the 1920’s celebrities and fashion designers have played a key role in bringing animal print to mainstream fashion. Fashion is cyclical and while most trends fade and re-emerge over time, animal print in one form or another has remained a staple in our wardrobes. What is the cause behind animal print’s rare ability to transcend seasons? Evolutionary psychology would suggest that it has something to do with fear.

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Fight or Flight

Evolutionary psychology dictates that human nature can be understood by analysing the behavioural and psychological adaptations evolved to ensure human survival and one psychological adaptation that has strong evolutionary roots is the fight or flight response. First coined by Walter Canon in the 1920s, fight or flight is a chain of rapidly occurring reactions inside the body to help  mobilize the body’s resources to deal with threatening circumstances. The most threatening circumstance of them all? Being face to face with a predator. Now whilst it’s a rarity to witness a leopard or tiger strolling through city streets, it can be argued that flashes of animal print are enough to activate a subconscious and instinctual fear response in the brain.

Dress: ASOS Design

Fear or Arousal?

But, if we’re afraid of something wouldn’t that increase our likelihood of avoiding it? That’s where the misattribution of arousal comes in. If asked to explain why we feel what we do at any given moment many people would claim to know the answer but that’s a common misconception as we all find it difficult to correctly identify the reasoning behind our feelings. For example, the physiological responses to both fear and arousal are incredibly similar such as increased blood pressure or shortness of breath which is why people often mistake fear for love and arousal and Dutton and Aron’s 1974 experiment demonstrated as much. In their study, an attractive female was asked to wait at the end of either a suspension bridge (that would induce fear) or a sturdy bridge (that would not induce fear). Male participants were asked to cross the bridge and during their walk the woman interrupted them and after a short interaction, she gave them her number. Results indicated that the woman received more phone calls from the men who walked the fear-inducing bridge. Researchers concluded that the fear response was confused with or misattributed with arousal for the woman in front of them.

The same outcome can be found when we’re confronted with animal prints. The latent fear response that has remained with us throughout the years to ensure our survival has been conflated with arousal overtime. It’s no wonder then why animal prints have been defined as both powerful and sexy. Just in time for spooky season, scare tactics can be a useful marketing trick when Halloween costumes are equal parts fear and sex.

Diversity Report

The Spring 2019 Runways Were the Most Racially Diverse Ever, but Europe Still Has a Major Age and Body Diversity Problem.

[The Fashion Spot]

Sexual Desire and Odor

Is you sex life impacted by a poor sense of smell?

[Psychology Today]

Met Gala 2019

Andrew Bolton, curator of the Costume Institute, has framed the exhibition around Susan Sontag’s seminal 1964 essay Notes on “Camp”, which posited different ways in which the concept could be construed.

[Vogue]

7 Steps To Embracing Positivity

Life transformation coach Corinne Worsley shares her tips for turning your back on Murphy’s Law and embracing positivity.

[Psychologies]

Fake Reviews

An ex-employee from celebrity-favourite beauty brand Sunday Riley reveals that employees were ‘forced to write fake reviews for our products on an ongoing basis’.

[Grazia]

Meghan Markle’s Pregnancy

Everything we know about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s royal baby from baby names to the due date.

[Elle]

Snogging, Sequins & Sweat: Welcome To Ashish’s All-Night Rave

Ashish’s London Fashion Week shows are always a highlight on the schedule, not only for his signature sequin-soaked pieces, but thanks to his ability to transform a catwalk and transport his audience to wherever his head is at that season, be it a midnight market or dreamlike nightscape.

[Refinery 29]

5 Things To Know About Riccardo Tisci's Debut Burberry Collection

On Monday evening, Riccardo Tisci unveiled his mammoth first collection as chief creative officer at Burberry. British Vogue‘s executive fashion news editor, Olivia Singer, summarises the key things to know about his debut collection, Kingdom.

[Vogue]

Christopher Kane Explores Sex in Nature

There is no other designer in the UK who can unsettle and provoke the way Kane does. His latest, creepily erotic collection was no different.

[Business of Fashion]

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VALENTINO HAUTE COUTURE #blackish #emmys

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The Best Dressed Stars On The 2018 Emmys Red Carpet

It’s not quite officially awards season yet (and thank god, because we could not handle that coinciding with Fashion Month), but the Emmys act as sort of a teaser for the real thing. In that sense, stars don’t necessarily bring out their most show-stopping dresses, but there were still some noteworthy looks — many of them from our (and probably your) absolute favourite TV stars — that hint at what’s to come on the red carpet this winter.

[Fashionista]

8 Hits and 17 Misses From New York Fashion Week Spring 2019

Despite the rain, The Big Apple was a hub of activity during New York Fashion Week Spring 2019. Marc Jacobs brought the week to a close last night and not even his hour-late show detracted from his brilliant collection.

[The Fashion Spot]

All The Celebrities Spotted So Far At London Fashion Week

London Fashion Week’s spring summer 2019 shows are underway, which means one thing: the captial is brimming with celebrities! From the front row to the parties, and of course the after parties, LFW is a veritable hive of famous people rubbing shoulders. But, who caught the eye of the Grazia editors, and most importantly what were they wearing?

[Grazia]

 

 

If you ask anyone in fashion ‘Who is Fashion Week for?’ they’ll give you the same two-word answer: ‘The Buyers’ and to some extent that is true. However, with each season as Fashion Week becomes more and more consumer facing, with the advent of see now buy now, live posting and live streaming we’re all being roped into the weird and wonderful bi-annual festivities. Like with anything that we’re intensely exposed to there’s a subsequent psychological impact and we’d be silly to think that the current Spring 2019 shows are not affecting us even in some implicit way.  

Michael Kors, Photo By: Sonny Vandevelde / Indigital.tv

Fashion Week Psychology

Tome, Image Source: Vogue Runway

Fashion Week Psychology

Brandon Maxwell, Photo By: Monica Feudi / Indigital.tv

So far, with New York Fashion Week wrapping up and London Fashion Week being underway we’ve seen the emergence of some interesting trends including; Printed Headscarves courtesy of Michael Kors, Laquan Smith and Kate Spade; Tie-Dye showcased by Prabal Gutung, Tome and Eckhaus Latta as well as statement Canary Yellow pieces as seen in the Brandon Maxwell, Oscar de la Renta and Pyer Moss shows.

Making A Statement

Speaking of Pyer Moss, the fresh-faced founder Kerby Jean-Raymond decided to make a statement at his show by creating a $125 sweater branded with the demand ‘Stop calling 911 on the culture’. Now this is by no means the first time we’ve seen the runway become a political stage, even for Jean-Raymond who intertwined Fashion with Activism for his Spring 2016 Menswear though the medium videos, music and posters with quotes from Black Lives Matter activist MarShawn McCarrel. 

Fashion Week Psychology
Image Source PyerMoss.com

What this is, is the first time we’ve seen a direct call to action against modern instances of violence against ethnic minorities – in particular Black people, in the form of hoax and extraneous calls to the authorities. Despite there being many quibbles about the wording of Jean-Raymond’s slogan tee as well as the associated price tag one thing that can’t be denied is that a standpoint was made, and a message that often gets ignored by mainstream media was delivered on a global stage.

The Veil of Racism

Slogan tees are just one of the many ways that brands have chosen to deliver messages about the current state of race relations, yet one of the most visible ways of delivering this message is through a designer’s choice of models. Whilst you may be thinking that model selection is essentially ‘not that deep’ the representation or lack thereof of a particular sub-group on a mass platform like fashion week has a strong impact on said individuals. In the 1903 book ‘The Soul of Black Folk’, W.E.B. Du Bois discusses “the veil of racism” and amongst many things, the veil is symbolic of the way Black people are prevented from seeing themselves as they really are, outside of the negative vision of Blackness created by racism and exclusion. This theory is backed up by results from Implicit Association Tests which reveal that black people are more likely to associate fellow Black people with negative and unfavourable characteristics. So, why do these results occur and what does this all have to do with fashion? Well according to researchers, witnessing the continued underrepresentation of one’s ethic group causes group members to feel devalued within society and in turn, can negatively impact upon their self-worth. This is why representation on mainstream platforms like the New York, London, Paris and Milan runways is so important as seeing ethnic minority individuals hailed as symbols of prominence and beauty will serve to strengthen the self-image of all ethnic minorities.

It’s too soon for stats for Spring 2019 but if last season’s diversity report is anything to go by then the future is looking bright.  The Fashion Spot’s statistics indicated that the Fall 2018 shows were the most diverse to date. In New York 37.3 percent of models were non-white. In London, 30.03 per cent of models at London Fashion week were non-white, a 3.6 per cent increase from the season prior with similar increases being reported at both Paris and Milan.

Fashion Week Psychology

Slick Woods

Naomi Chin Wing

Duckie Thot

Adut Akech

According to psychologists Taylor and Lee, “examining how minority groups are portrayed in media can provide information of how a minority group is viewed by society at large”. The impact of fashion is often downplayed but if the research is anything to go by the more we become witness to positive representations of minorities through the likes of models like Slick Woods, Naomi Chin Wing, Duckie Thot and Adut Akech the closer we can get to lifting the veil of racism and seeing not only ourselves but each other in a better light.

Our main goal at The Psychology of Fashion Blog™ is to provide interesting and informative research on all things Fashion Psychology. Help us to continue to provide this free service by giving a small donation. Thank you for your continued support

The Fashion Industry Is One of the Biggest Supporters of Modern Slavery Across the Globe

For a few years, the idea that the fashion industry was the world’s second-most polluting industry circulated constantly, repeated in endless articles and sustainability summits. While that fact has turned out to be impossible to prove, a new report suggests one that’s just as dark: The fashion supply chain funnels more money toward modern slavery than any other industry besides tech.

[Fashionista]

How Do You Really Measure The Success Of A Fashion Degree?

Every year Central Saint Martins opens its doors to the public for its degree show. The historic institution is renowned for having been the platform for trailblazing alumni including Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, Stella McCartney and Christopher Kane. But as with all good things, it comes at a price.

[i-D]

Is Posting Selfies Motivated by Narcissism?

Selfies (photographs one takes of oneself at arm’s length, usually with a smartphone) seem to be everywhere. We see people snapping photos of themselves while out on the town, and we see our friends posting their selfies on social media. Given that sharing selfies literally involves turning the camera on oneself, many people have wondered if taking selfies is narcissistic.

[PsychologyToday]

4-Day Work Weeks Are The Future & Here’s The Proof

Everyone knows the dangers of overwork – stress, mental ill health, obesity, heart attack, a sleep deficit that carries its own associated health risks, to name a few – but often it’s unavoidable. Tech has led to an ‘always on’ work culture and many companies still value being physically present at the office ahead of productivity.

[Refinery29]

Zandra Rhodes Talks Diversity, Social Media And Shoes

It’s so funny,” Zandra Rhodes tells Vogue of how she ended up in Kurt Geiger’s autumn/winter 2018 campaign. “They were my neighbours for almost 20 years!” The brand’s factory, it transpires, was situated next to the Fashion Textile Museum, which Rhodes founded, from 2000 to 2011. The accessories giant upscaled to larger premises in Clerkenwell three years ago, but Rhodes is still fond of its footwear.

[Vogue]

These Are The 3 Bags To Invest In For AW18, According To The Net-A-Porter Gang

There are the timeless designer handbags that will always be worth investing in, ie, your Chanel boy bags, Chloe Nile cross bodys or even your Loewe puzzle bags. Then there are the classics in the making, the niche designer brands that you might not have heard of yet but are about to serve up the next IT bag.

[MarieClaire]

The Psychology of Fashion Blog™ was featured in Grazia discussing the way women internalize misogyny in their clothing choices.

‘Though designers are weighted to dictate these rules, Shakaila Forbes-Bell, Fashion Psychologist, explains, ‘Fashion rules are no different from social norms – unwritten rules about how we think and behave and dress. We follow fashion rules because they provide a guideline for what we should and shouldn’t wear in order to fit into certain social groups, which in turn fosters healthy relationships. We also form fashion rules because the influential fashion publications who dispense these rules act as a type of authority figure. In general, humans are socialised to obey authority figures.’ She uses the miniskirt as an example, which was launched as a symbol of women’s emancipation but as Shakaila says, ‘has turned into a factor of the submission of women to a male aesthetic, which causes women to generally shy away from the garment.’

But, where does this male gaze stem from? Shakaila is convinced it’s learned behaviour at play. ‘Evolutionary psychology states that a pronounced cleavage signals high fertility levels in females which peaks males interest in their quest to find ‘the best’ mate. That’s why low-cut tops draw more attention than say crop tops or booty shorts.’

I’ve developed many bad habits over the years. I cannot start eating my dinner unless I’ve found a sufficiently entertaining show to watch. I haven’t gone to bed at a decent hour in years and I’ve been known to fall asleep with a slab of make-up on. But one thing that I share with 20-30% of the population is my nail-biting obsession. I’ve had short and stubby nails for as long as I can remember. Whilst I’ve always admired the long and dainty nails of my mother and friends I never understood how they could just …let them grow.

Nail-Biting or Onychophagia is a type of Body Focused Repetitive Disorder. These types of disorders are distantly related to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and can be equally difficult to quit as sufferers often accept their habit and resolve that they are too weak willed to quit. Like many nail biters, I’m aware of the disgusting consequence of my habit and its subsequent impact on my physical health but alas I still persist, often subconsciously.

In an attempt to get a better understanding of my unfashionable affliction I looked deeper into the psychological causes of Onychophagia. Greek philosopher Theophrastus (c. 371 – c. 287 BC) considered the appearance of fingernails to be pivotal in the characterisation of people. Individuals possessing un-manicured nails were considered to be lackadaisical. Fast forward 2000 years later to early psychoanalytic scholars such as Freud who regarded nail-biting as a return to the oral stage of development, an aggressive motivation represented by biting and the desire for the breast represented by putting things in one’s mouth. Well.

Luckily for me, research has developed since then and psychologists now believe that nail-biting occurs for less ‘Electra Complex’ based reasons. A 2006 study by Williams, Rose and Chisholm investigating nail-biting in young adults found that the habit occurs as a result of boredom or stress suggesting that negative and unstimulating environments are a nail-biters worst nightmare. A commonly held belief is that nail-biting is a manifestation of anxiety. However, research investigating Onychophagia in children were unable to find sufficient evidence to suggest that nail-biters are any more anxious than those who do not partake. More recently, psychologists have linked nail-biting to perfectionism.

Considering that in their natural habitat my jagged and stubby nails don’t resemble anything close to perfection I found this result to rather surprising. However, research has found that people who engage in Body Focused Repetitive Behaviours like nail-biting “demonstrate maladaptive planning styles characterized by high standards and unwillingness to relax, two inherent traits in perfectionists.” Similarly, when surveying Nail-Biters, results also found that when compared to non-biters, biters have a tendency to over-plan, overwork themselves, become easily frustrated without high-levels of activity and exhibit many more traits possessed by Organizational Perfectionists.

So now I’ve figured out how I bite my nails and have resolved that I’m determined to quit, I need to consider how I’m going to fix the issue. Avoiding boredom and unstimulating environments at all costs whilst ideal, let’s face it, is pretty unrealistic. Studies have found that nail-biting occurs least often when people are reprimanded for their behaviour. As much as I’m sure my mother would relish the opportunity to give me a good telling off every time my hand ascends towards my face that won’t work because, jobs. Recent intervention research has concentrated on habit reversal, which focuses on awareness training and relaxation. However, Adesso and Norberg (2001) conclude that the long-term effects of these methods are not as impressive as the initial results.  

One thing I’ve noticed is that I am more reluctant to give into temptation when my nails are done. Like most nail-biters it’s not uncommon to experience self-consciousness when visiting nail salons as technicians have been reported as going so far as to refuse serving clientele with botch nails at all. To make things easier, we’ve made a list of the highest rated items you’ll need to give your nails first class treatment as well as a break from your gnashing teeth, all from the comfort of your home.

Do you have any other tricks to battle Onychophagia? Sound off in the comments below!

The Psychology of Fashion Blog™ was featured in Short List discussing the psychological reasons why men overspend on clothing. 

‘Fashion psychologist and founder of The Psychology of Fashion blog, Shakaila Forbes-Bell, believes that the core of this newfound male behaviour is the “evolutionary impulse to mate.” She argues that buying and showing off expensive goods, otherwise known as ‘peacocking’, is simply done to impress others. “In nature, even though the male peacock is attracting potential predators by flashing his brightly coloured tail, the increased possibility of attracting a potential suitor makes it all worth the risk,” she says. “It’s the same for men. In this competitive era of dating, even if spending a fortune on clothes and trainers may do serious damage to the bank account, the ability to say ‘hey, I’m so resourceful that I can almost throw money away’ is a serious motivational factor when it comes to men’s spending habits.”’

Stop Telling Us We Are Beautiful

Researchers have suggested that instead of making a woman feel better about how she looks, reading that “You are beautiful” may instead send her down the road to mentally reviewing everything she finds non-beautiful about herself. [Psychology Today]

Dua Lipa Announces New Fashion Collection

However, not everyone is pleased with what may not be an entirely inclusive collection. Although Dua tweeted that she wants the clothes to be “universal and accessible for everyone,” it turns out that they’ll only be available in up to a UK size 16. [Teen Vogue]

Victoria's Secret has a plan to revamp its image for younger women

Victoria’s Secret is trying to attract younger women and win back former customers by focusing on core categories, such as apparel and lingerie. Jan Singer, CEO of Victoria’s Secret Lingerie said the company is doing this by understanding the needs of its clients. “It’s not a one size fits all,” [CNBC]

Tess Holliday Slams Photoshop App That Slimmed Down Her Body

Model Tess Holliday is speaking out after a photoshop app called PIP CAM used her image without permission. And if that’s not bad enough, the purpose of using said image was to show how the app can slim down people’s bodies. [ELLE]

Theresa May gets three times as many comments on her appearance as Corbyn

New research shows that part of the problem for female politicians is that social media puts public figures in virtual stocks but offers a safe haven for the cowards who attack them [GQ]

Remember the Kitri dress with a 700 people waiting list? It’s back in stock

You know the KITRI dress that had its own 700-people strong waiting list before even launching after being spotted on Charlotte Groeneveld aka Fashion Guitar and other fashion influencers? The one that sold out in a matter of hours? Well good news, it will be back in stock today at 12.30pm! Just in time for a bit of pre-bank holiday shopping. Happy days. [Marie Claire]