Our Readers Asked: Are you always judging what people wear?
Mara and I both get asked this question a lot. The answer is yes and no. I think “frequently analyzing” or “appreciating” is more accurate than always judging or critiquing. Why people wear what they wear and how they wear it, fascinates us. Personally, I’m captivated when style is used as a form of creative self-expression or a strategic communication tool. When someone has great style and appears confident in what they are wearing, I will definitely be making mental notes on what elements make their outfit eye catching. Their overall look might not be to my taste per se, but I can still appreciate aspects of their style and find a tip to borrow from them. Mara and I feel the same way about each other’s style. She prefers a more feminine esthetic while I like a more rocker look, but we can both steal a page from one another’s style book.
On the other hand, when someone appears uncomfortable/uneasy/not themselves in their clothes, or when something looks “off”, then in my mind I am picturing them in different clothes. There have definitely been times when we’ve wanted to ambush someone a là What Not to Wear, but so far we’ve managed to restrain ourselves.
What Makes An Outfit Eye Catching?
A garment that fits well will look infinitely better and more expensive than one that does not. Even loose fitting or over-sized items need to look intentional and not like you are simply hiding your shape. Pairing loose with fitted is always a winning combination to my eye.
Texture & Layers
We mention these all the time because they are such great tools to have in your sartorial toolbox. Adding layers or texture makes every outfit more visually interesting. They can make dressing in a column of colour more striking and help to create balance where there is discrepancy between upper and lower body.
Proportions and Silhouettes
I’ll observe if a person’s pants have a stumpifying effect or if they make their legs look a mile long. If the length of their top cuts them in half I will imagine moving the waistline up or down to create a more appealing line (think Rule of Thirds from art class). I’ll also envision how I would create balance between upper and lower body if there was significant disproportion. Playing with proportions and silhouettes is a great way to refresh your existing wardrobe.
These are the details that distinguish an outfit from “getting dressed”. The way someone cuffs their pants or tucks their top or rolls their sleeves will grab my attention. I’ll notice if a woman wears her top half tucked to create waist definition or surrenders the waistline completely. And because I admittedly have shiny object syndrome, I can’t help but spot accessories or lack thereof. Accessories add so much personality to an outfit. They give us a glimpse into who that woman is.
Colour and Pattern
Unusual combinations of colours and/or patterns will turn my head. It takes courage to wear something bold and I admire that even if I would not wear it myself. Alternatively, I am also attracted to thoughtful monochromatic outfits that incorporate some of the elements I mentioned above.
Frequently Analyzing vs Always Judging
So yes, style is usually on my radar, however I can and do switch it off in order to be present in the moment and take in everything else around me. Style is not top of mind as I am sweating up the Grouse Grind. I am not always judging fashions while watching my favourite little league player or engrossed in conversation with close friends. Personal style is a passion of mine, but it’s not everything. I do believe though, that when you make personal style a personal goal, you are more comfortable and confident in yourself which makes pursuing your more important goals and dreams a whole lot easier.