The wish to decorate or beautify the human body has been existed from the Stone Age when the early man painted his face and his body. Even though the beauty standards have changed, the desire remains constant.The evolution of clothing has been closely interlinked with factors such as social, economicaland technological progress of each period in the history of mankind.


In this page

  1. Psychological and social influences of clothing
  2. Psychological Influences Of Clothing
  3. Social Influences of Clothing

Psychological and social influences of clothing

Clothing generally:-

  • Determines the age of a person, his sex,nationality, occupation and his socio-economicalconditions.
  • Is the symbol of the person's attitudes, values, interest and taste. By this we can easilystudy his or hers personal characteristics. They also fulfil important psychological needs of conformity and self-confidence.



Psychological Influences Of Clothing

It is easily to choose the type of fabric needed and judge its quality by looking at the labeldetails. But one should know the psychological influences of clothing, so that selection of fabricis made to suit the person (i.e. his dressing styles and the occasion).Some of the psychological influences of clothing that should be considered during selection arelisted below.

  • Selection should be made in such a way that it matches his figure.Examples:
    • Silk, chiffon and crape fabrics drapes well and falls in to gentle folds to give afeminine look, so it can be used for women who wants to look delicate. Chiffon is finetransparent silk or nylon fabric.
    • There are fabrics, which add bulk to the body such as brushed cotton, velvet andother heavy fabrics. They tend the person who wishes to look bulky
    • People who are thin should wear fabrics, which are more shiny and lustrous because they reflect light and emphasis the body contours. Dull textures do absorb light but do not enlarge the size of the body.
    • Selection should be made so that it meets the occasion.Examples:
      • Basically the dresses that are worn at evening or night should bemade in dark colours and shiny fabrics.
      • Dull and light colour will go well for day-to-day wearing.
      • Knitted and light fabrics are ideal for sports and casual wear.
      • One should choose to make garments from the fabrics that arecomfortable to wear for longer period of time and fashionable garment should beselected to wear for any short occasion.
    • It is also important to know to select fabric for the particular styled outfit.Examples:
      • One should select fabrics which are stiff for the outfits which stands well and which needs stiffness and less fall and drape whereas the same which is selected to make a line skirt in stiff fabric can not be used for stitching a circular skirt because it needs more falling material such as chiffon and crape.
      • There are different types of style in silhouette and the designer should know to select the proper type of fabric that will suit the design.
      • If the family woven fabric gives a crisp and sliff effect. Knitted fabric give more ease and comfortable but cling to the body shape and do not drape like other fabric such as chiffon and silk. The knitted fabric needs careful handling because the stretch easily so the design of the garment should be simple and should have minimum scams and should be cut with enough ease (allowance) added to avoid the cling.
      • The stiff fabric that looks crisp will not cling to the body so it can cover the irregularity of the figure.
      • Designer should see to that they select a plain weaved fabric outfit to be stitched with extra trimmings where as if the fabric has some different weave the importance should be given to emphasis the weaves and reduce the use of trimmings as the weave it self can enhance the beauty of the outfit.
    • Clothing also has psychological effects on the wearer.Examples
      • People will be crisp (firm, clean and fresh) in cotton clothes.
      • People will be very delicate and feminine in chiffons.
      • People will be dignified in silk.
      • People will be rustic in handlooms.
      • The uniforms a sports team wear gives the members a feeling of unity or togetherness.

Social Influences of Clothing

The design of clothing primarily influences the decision to buy; but one step behind the decision to buy is the behaviour of people towards clothing. For an early age children want to conform tothe latest fashion. The proportion of fashion innovators in the population will probably always besmall, the proportion of active followers of fashion large and the proportion of ignorers of fashion a smaller group draw from the traditionalists, the old and the poor. Our bodies and clothes constitute our physical presence in the world, and particularly the social world in whichwe live. They are the means by which our place and participation in that social world are signified. Clothing signs express an individual social identity. It is one of the basic conditions of social life that individuals know with in whom they are dealing, they have to be able to recognize each others social identity. They need to know the roll of each person, the groups they belong to,their status within those groups and even their status within the society as a whole.The behaviour of the society towards clothing is influenced by:

  • Income
    Hence the large factors which determines the behaviour of people to wards clothing is the amount of their income available to buy clothing. It may be over simplifying to state that the newer and higher the fashion, the more expensive it is likely to be; but it must be remembered that fashion often express not only innovation but status. Even the most well known example of fashion emanating from ‘the streets’ based on the large fee incomes of young men in continuous employment living at home.
  • Lifestyle
    Assuming sufficient income exercise choice, people wear clothing to suit their life style. Lifestyle has many meanings, some of which are very general while others differentiate groups.
  • Slimmer shape
    One important component of lifestyle over the last generation has been the movement tostandardize human body to a slimmer shape by dieting and exercise. Long ago obesity was muchmore common among both men and women and was socially acceptable. In that climate therewas a proliferation of chains of men’s wear retailers shape by offering made to measure suits,corset markers offering a home service to individual customers, and home dress making serviceto individual from their homes. Now a day the made to measure market in all its aspects has declined continuously, partly because of the social desire for slimmer and hence more standardized body shapes, but also because made-to-measure garments are inherently more expensive to produce and because pattern cutting and sizing based on statistically sound sizing surveys and more effective. Made-to-measure market is limited to very highly priced garments, to the relatively few withdisproportionate figures, and to those whose job requires they wear clothes with a perfect fit, perhaps including commissionaires, military officers and airline pilots.
  • Simple clothing
    Another component of lifestyle is the demand for simpler clothing which reflects both activeworking lives and emancipation. The most obvious evidence of this is the wearing of fewer itemsin an outfit, fewer petticoats, fewer vests, fewer waist coats, fewer hats and the demise of theliberty bodice. In addition the size and coverage of individual item has reduced, jackets, if worninstead of frock coats, shorter shorts, more exiguous swimwear, and brief instead of directoireknickers. Further more, people require that clothing be simple to doff and don with zips and press studs instead of buttons and button holes, more frequent use of elastication, slip-on shoes,and coat skirts with attached collars, more self supporting trousers and belts with fewer brakes,tights avoiding the needs for suspended belts.Finally, people demand clothing that is simpler to maintain, preferably by washing or otherwise by standard dry cleaning techniques. One exception which customers tolerate is an animal skincoat. This attracts the higher maintenance costs of specialized dry cleaning which people are prepared to meet only because an animal skin coat is considered to be long term investment. Inrelation to washing, the design of the clothing forms part of an after-care system which includethe design of washing cycles in machines, the chemistry of detergents, method of drying and theattempt to eliminate or reduce the time consuming activity of ironing.A striking exception to this general demand for simpler clothing is the wedding dress, whichrequires more undergarments, is full in length, is relatively difficult to put on and is not normallywashed or dry cleaned. The minority who hire a wedding dress benefit from paying about half the price for an equivalent garment and the dress is usually hired many times before it isscrapped. Graduation gowns on the other hand are manufactured from disposable fabrics whichgives good performance for one day at an acceptably low price. Translating this concept towedding dresses will be very much more difficult in spite of the potential economic advantages, because the achievement of the right wedding dress images from disposable fabrics is muchmore unlikely. In any case the traditional demands of a wedding are reflected in a type of clothing whose costs people are willing to bear.
  • Fashion
    It is a complex of activities and attitudes called fashion which influences the behaviour of different group in relation to clothing. Those in society who wear traditional, classic, relativelyunchanging styles use clothing as symbols of continuity or changelessness, while those who wear the latest fashions use clothing as symbols of change and progress.But almost everyone buy clothing based on fashion. Even if you did not want to be fashionable,you would still have to buy what was available and stores stock clothing based on fashion trends.Fashion can be fun. New styles or “looks” make us feel attractive and on top of things. Theymake us feel good about our selves. Unfortunately, few people can afford do buy a completely new wardrobe every season. When you shop, remember that fashions, like advertisement arecreated not just for our pleasure but to sell cloths.