Fashion tells our stories

“On a busy day with lots of photo ops—but little time for speeches—these clothes could tell part of their story for them. That’s the power of fashion when it is harnessed by someone who embraces it.” *

And that’s why fashion, or clothes, are significant. They are not superficial. What we CHOOSE to wear is important because it says so much about us; our heritage, values, intent and motivation.

So when 127 women were sworn into the first session of the 116th US Congress, their outfit choices were significant and some planned well in advance. They spoke volumes about who the new Congresswomen are, what they stand for and who they represent. On this occasion the message conveyed by the outfits was that this day heralds an exciting departure from the conventional mainstream (mostly) male representatives. Picture traditional dress from New Mexico, a red on black embroidered gown, an all-white suit to represent Suffragettes and a red and gold headscarf!

Whether or not these women continue to allow their clothes to speak will be interesting to see but they certainly made a big statement on Day one. Personally, I like to see the variety of outfits as it represents the contemporary multicultural world that is and therefore democracy itself.

We humans are biologically programmed to judge each other in less than two seconds to tell if we’re looking at friend or foe. Though we’re not generally concerned with detecting foes these days we do subconsciously make decisions based on appearance and treat people accordingly.

So it’s absolutely worth thinking about what you want to say to those you meet, particularly those you may not get a chance to speak with. Our non-verbal cues, including body language, tone of voice, quality of attention we give to others and how we choose to interact are powerful. Clothes convey immediate messages in this very visual society we live in and though we all make subconscious judgments through what we see, not all of us know how to construct an outfit that says what we want it to. This is one of my favourite things to help people with in a Style Direction session. 

* Leah Chernikoff, author of What the Women of the 116th Congress Wore, and Why It Matters in 

Donna CameronComment