You Are What You Wear

Our clothing is a reflection of what we are thinking and what we are feeling. Often, wardrobe mishaps are simply our inner conflicts bubbling to the surface.

BY: Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner


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Every item in your wardrobe is the consequence of a deeper, unconscious choice. A closet full of baggy, shapeless clothes might belong to a woman who, underneath it all, is embarrassed about carrying extra weight. Perhaps she wears oversized clothes to cover the body she hates, to hide the shame she experiences, and to thwart criticism from others. Or maybe she chose these clothes because she doesn’t want to lose weight, doesn’t want to work out, and doesn’t want to stop eating junk food, but is afraid to admit it. Maybe the closet belongs to a mom who doesn’t wear nice clothes because she’s pressed for time, but who might have to take notice of her failing marriage if she were less busy. Maybe the overly youthful clothing in a closet indicates a thirtysomething who finds the experience of seeing wrinkles and a couple of gray hairs just too painful to bear. Or maybe she’s holding on to her past because she hasn’t accomplished her goals in the present. And some of our issues go far deeper than in these examples. We’re clothing accumulators with anxiety, compulsive shoppers struggling with addiction, or frumpy dressers who suffer from depression. Our closets are windows into our internal selves.

Every one of us attempts to say or hide something in the way we wear our clothes. But few of us can articulate what we’re trying to express or locate the root of the pattern, the pathos.

Having had a history of working in fashion, Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner, a psychologist, was always fascinated by the internal reasons for our clothing choices. She decided to blend both of her passions to create a new way examining what we wear, the Psychology of Dress. In addition to running her wardrobe consulting business, InsideOut, Dr. B specializes in the treatment of mood, anxiety, substance, and eating disorders. Her focus of clinical research is exercise adherence, nutrition, and psychological wellness among children and adults with obesity.

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Related Topics: Psychology, Dress, Mental, Healthy Living