The Elements of Image
are Clothes, Grooming, and Body Language, including Etiquette
What you wear matters
at all ages, at all times, and in all places.
Like food and shelter, clothing is ranked among basic human needs to be managed wisely. Learn More
Like time, money, and food, clothing is a resource to use to your advantage. Learn More
Clothing, grooming, and body language including etiquette combine to make visual statements about you—to reflect or project messages about you. Learn More
Above all, the way you choose to look affects the way you think, the way you feel, the way you act or behave, and only then the way others react or respond to you. Learn More
The Mirror of History
Clothing provides a visual account of history. By looking at the clothing of a specific period of time, you can see ways in which history has influenced the clothing, as well as ways which the clothing has influenced the events of history. Learn More
Why Care About What You Wear?
Why Clothes Matter
Written by Judith Rasband, CEO, Conselle L.C.
Working in the field of fashion and image management, I work with clothes. I’m often told “Clothes don’t matter!” to which I like to tease, “Oh yeah, when was the last time you went out without your clothes on?” That usually brings a chuckle and disarms the opposition—at least a little. But the question remains. Why do clothes matter? Why care about what you wear?
Clothing Fills A Basic Need
While people take seriously where they live and what they eat, most people ignore or trivialize what they wear—they say it’s superficial. But wait. Think about it a moment. Shelter, food, and clothing, are basic needs. There’s nothing trivial or superficial about that.
In terms of filling a basic need, your clothes protect you physically, psychologically, socially, and aesthetically. Think of your clothing as body armor for physical survival in the environment, camouflage gear to psychologically balance and boost your body image and self-acceptance, weaponry to help you fit and function socially, and a personal shield to present you in an aesthetically pleasing way—to express the spirit of who you are. All work together to establish a positive image identity for you.
Clothing Is A Resource
Clothes are an essential part of the human experience, involved in the daily act of dressing. Because of its closeness to our body, clothing functions much like a second skin, a physical and psychological extension of ourselves, presenting us to the world. Clothing works as a means or tool with which our bodies are given meaning and identity as an individual and within our cultural groups—who we are and what we are all about. Our toolbox is our closet, containing the clothes we can use intentionally to define ourselves and our roles, facilitate our interactions with others, and achieve our goals. In this sense, clothing becomes a resource—at least it should or could be if we manage it mindfully.
Everyone agrees about the value of time management, money management, and maybe meal management, but most don’t even think about the value of clothing or wardrobe management, let alone image management. All are precious commodities or resources that need to be well managed to realize their value. Virtually everyone has wasted time, money, and space on underused clothing—clothes that don’t meet our needs. We can’t afford that.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what’s in your closet/wardrobe speaks volumes. The clothes you chose to put into your closet and onto your body speak volumes about your values, attitudes, interests, personality, sense of self, roles and goals—how you think and feel about yourself the moment you pay for them or put them on. That’s reason enough to care. You cannot NOT communicate!
Without saying a word, your clothes speak loud and clear. In fact, they don’t shut up! People continually say and write, “Look out for the statement you’re making.” “Be careful of the message you’re sending.” Yet most people don’t know what’s doing the talking. The statements or messages come from the Elements of Design, the clothing style lines and shapes, the colors, textures, and patterns, and the way they are used, arranged, or put together in an outfit. Change one detail of dress and you change the message and the mood.
In closing, clothes communicate from the outside in, influencing the way you think, the way you feel, and the way you act. Clothes communicate from the inside out, influencing yourself and the way others re-act or respond to you. Seriously, what you wear on the outside can reflect or project what’s going on inside—body, mind, and spirit. It counts to care about what you wear.
Clothing Has Universal Effects
You must be aware of the universal effects of your clothing in your life—in the home, church, school, and community as well as in the workplace. Stating it again because of its importance, the clothing you choose to wear affects the way you look, yes, but also the way you think, the way you feel, the way you act or behave, and only then the way others react or respond to you.
Your clothing is continually at work—working for or against you. It can help you reach your goals, or be a tremendous liability that holds you back without you ever knowing how and why. You can’t afford to think negative thoughts about yourself—or to harbor a negative self-image. You can’t afford to feel self-conscious, inferior, or full of self-doubt. You can’t afford to act awkward, insecure, or out-of-place. Nor can you afford to act in a defensive, defiant, arrogant, affected, or conceited manner. In turn, you cannot afford to be seen as rebellious, pretentious, irresponsible, ineffective, or unproductive. These perceptions lead to negative reactions from others.
Clothing can help you create a positive appearance, maintain positive thoughts, and a positive self-image. Clothing can be a fast, effective tool to increase self-acceptance and self-confidence, and to overcome feelings of anxiety. Clothing is one of the most effective tools you can use to improve behavior, increase performance and productivity. Clothing is a readily available and effective tool enabling you to create a positive impression, inviting others to become acquainted with the unique individual inside your well-managed visual image and to regard you favorably and with continued interest.
Clothing is the Mirror of History
The clothing people wear in any period of time provides a visual account of the history of the time. Clothing is associated with virtually every aspect of human behavior. Clothing is related to virtually every field of study or occupation. By looking at the clothing of a specific period of time, you can see ways in which history has influenced the clothing, as well as ways in which the clothing has influenced the events of history. Throughout the ages, clothing has affected gender roles, social status, religion, morals, sex, marriage, education, business, politics, and most of our social activities and institutions. As such, clothing reflects its time period.
Events and developments worldwide affect every aspect of living at all levels of society, including clothing. Clothing presents a visible reflection of the choices of an individual, a small group, or a larger social-cultural congregation of people and depends on a multitude of factors. The social, economic, and political factors determine an individual’s attitudes and their attitudes are reflected through their clothing choices. The style lines and shapes, the colors, and the materials used to clothe ourselves tell much about the prevailing conditions of society.
Clothing is so often assumed to be a “woman’s thing,” but history shows that until the early nineteenth century men appeared to be more fashion-conscious than women. Change is constant, nonetheless, contemporary clothes for men, women, and children remain as much a function of our way of life as it has in the past. Clothing styles change with changing trends in the fashion industry and the economy in general, but because of mass media coverage available to all, the rate of change in clothing style has greatly increased.
Clothing styles that bring more financial profit are labeled as “fashionable.” Fashion is planted in the minds of unknowing masses through the media, due to marketing and advertising. “Fashion victims” are misled by capitalist forces as they adopt a look without even knowing or supporting the meaning behind that look—never more evident than in recent decades with the adoption of faded or stained, ripped and torn, distressed and deconstructed denim.
Levi-Straus & Company called the casual dress downtrend “the most significant apparel trend of the century”—indeed, in the history of fashion as most people no longer dress up. Rebel chic, utility chic, and poverty chic describe relaxed dress standards, predictably leading to relaxed manners, relaxed morals, relaxed productivity, and the loss of individuality. What we see in the mirror today is not pretty.
To reap the benefits of your clothing as a resource, you need to learn the accurate and basic information needed to manage the clothes in your closet. While knowledge is powerful, you must then act on that information, boldly and according to plan. The right knowledge acted upon is power!
Regrettably, most people tend to act only when they have a sudden need for clothes, only when the clothes are on sale, or only on impulse. Thoughtlessly they grab and go. Personal growth and self-improvement are the result of mindfully acting on accurate information and according to plan. Your clothing management action must be mindful, with intent, consistent, and continuous.
The Conselle Institute of Image Management is a professional organization dedicated to the purpose of image education through research, community and corporate seminar presentations, personal consulting services, special interest retreats, and advancement in the field of image management careers. We teach you the art and science of self-presentation. We teach you what works, what doesn’t, and WHY! It’s not only what you wear, it’s how you wear it!
Acting on the concepts, strategies, and systems put forth by Conselle is the most reliable way to plan for and acquire a workable wardrobe to advance or upgrade your appearance, your self-presentation, or self-branding. If you look the part it’s more likely you will act the part and be taken more seriously—affecting relationships in the home, the school, church, and/or community, as well as in the workplace. It’s the first step toward achieving your dreams and goals.