Wow! As this year draws to a close, I’m reflecting on my busiest year to date. I may have been quiet wrt blogging, but I have been super busy elsewhere. I’ve also done a huge amount of press interviews this year and I wanted to share some with you over the next few days, possibly weeks! I hope you enjoy reading them. Do let me know.
The most recent interview was with Joy Montgomery whowhatwear.co.uk who wanted to understand the Psychology behind why fashion has become more conservative. This was my response:
Dressing in a conservative (small c) style
Why do you think more conservative dress trends have seen such success this year?
The rise of what’s known as modest fashion has been hugely influential in that has led to there being far more choice when it comes to buying fashion items that are not skimpy or revealing. As a result, maxi and midi length skirts and dresses are very popular and whereas it used to be difficult to find a cocktail dress with sleeves, it’s far easier now.
How do you think women’s understanding of what is ‘attractive’ or ‘flattering’ has changed in recent years?
Feminism is now back on the agenda. [Some]Women are deciding for themselves what is attractive and what is flattering. Fashion, typically led by men, used to dictate fashion trends and consumers followed, but this has changed over recent years. Consumers today have never had so much choice, or been better informed and more demanding. For a growing mass, there is a heightened awareness of the consequences of purchasing behaviour. Today’s consumers are smart. They are showing the fashion industry what they want to wear. They are also more body positive and more confident in what is attractive or flattering for them. The interesting thing is that when we believe we look good, we feel more confident. Confidence is attractive and so this gives us an advantage when we interact with others.
Why do you think ‘frumpy’ has historically been used as a female-centric term?
There are far more words with negative connotations in English vocabulary for women than for men. For example, compare bachelor with spinster, old goat (considered humorous) with old slag (not humorous), mutton dressed as lamb, and so on. What does frumpy mean? Dull, not sexy, not modern, not young, not new. Frumpy describes a style that is considered appropriate for an old, unattractive woman, there is no equivalent that I know for men. This word, like many other derogatory terms for women, is ageist as well as sexist. We still have a very long way to go in terms of linguistic equality.
Do you think there has been a shift in who women dress for?
What we wear says a lot about us and this, like any form of communication, can be misunderstood. As we understand this and move away from fashion dictating to us, to fashion listening to us, we choose who we dress for. Increasingly this is for ourselves. But understanding how we think, feel and act is complex! Some women, those with more confidence who care less about what others think, may choose comfortable clothes and styles that they make them look and feel good, that enable them to function well and do their job. These women dress with style for purpose and not for gaze. However, other women, possibly because of socialization and other influences, may seek reassurance about their appearance through their appearance.
And, if so, how do you think this has impacted fashion trends?
There is a far greater range and assortment of styles available now. It used to be that one style or trend was ‘in’ for a particular season and if you weren’t wearing that you were out of date, but now there is no single trend. Fashion now is more about a holistic look, from head to toe and includes cosmetics, hair and nails. It is also about social and environmental responsibilities and this is often reflected in our fashion choices.
The interview was integrated into an article and published on 19th December 2019 on whowhatwear.co.uk Why 2019 Was the Year That Fashion Reclaimed the Word “Frumpy”
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.
Have a great day!
The Psychology of Fashion is now available as an audiobook.