Students express interest in fashion styling and psychology

Paige Miller

As an interest in fashion psychology spikes among college students and individuals in the fashion industry, psychology and aesthetic play increasingly important roles in the art of fashion styling.

Carolyn Mair, a cognitive psychologist at the University of the Arts London, recently implemented the world’s first master’s degree program in Fashion Psychology at the London College of Fashion.

In Mair’s interview with Careers in Psychology, she said applying a scientific approach regarding fashion allows us to understand human behavior on another level. Fashion psychology integrates the science of psychology and the fashion industry, resulting in the change of consumer perceptions and behaviors.

Mair claims styling is not just about the way individuals display self-expression through outfits, and she emphasizes that psychology is critical to fashion stylists, as it encompasses how clothes make people feel.

Todd White, a Kent State junior fashion merchandising student working toward a career in fashion styling, said he is inspired by psychology in styling, as he uses fashion to tell a story.

“I like to take chances and be original when I style,” White said. “I’m inspired by setting and think about how I can I add to it and portray a message through garments and background.”

As one of the most sought after careers in the fashion industry, Mair said styling is used to attract consumers to a certain brand or trend as it is presented in print and media productions, music videos, tours and red carpet events.

She also said a successful fashion stylist uses the science of the industry to understand clients and create a visually pleasing piece.

For students like White, glamorizing the breakdown of social norms and manipulating light, color and makeup to set a tone for specific brands, trends and fashion eras are just a few ways individuals incorporate psychology into styling.

“I’ve been thinking about what my purpose of styling and being in Kent State’s fashion program was lately,” White said. “Until someone approached me and said that I make them look at fashion differently now when they see my work. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to hear; I want my work to make people have an open mind.”

Daijah-Monai Williams, a senior fashion merchandising and sociology student, said she realizes the importance of using psychology in fashion to portray a message.

“The women’s movement inspired me to do a shoot with women wearing men’s clothing,” Williams said. “I want everyone to look different when I style, to represent we are different, but we’re all human.”

In Williams’ recent project, she styled models in monochromatic clothing with different background colors to evoke a playful balance between society and culture. Genders were not separated by specific colors and every model communicated with one another through their outfits.

“The psychology of fashion is so important. It’s everywhere,” Williams said. “The outfits on the mannequins in a window display are designed to attract you to enter the store and purchase items. Styling is the foundation of fashion — it makes you feel something.”

Williams believes psychology is the vehicle of fashion, and she said you cannot have one without the other.

“I’m a sociologist and fashion is my license for how I view society,” she said.

Paige Miller is the fashion reporter, contact her at [email protected].