Image via Wikipedia
It’s interesting the effect that certain patterns can have on one’s perception. Fashion designers have to keep this in mind, as do the consumers. It’s not enough simply to assess which color goes with what, or what pattern looks good on the mannequin. It’s also necessary to put the clothing on a human body, preferably several, and note the various effects.
Stripes are a good example. The direction of the stripes actually accentuates the body’s physical features, as much as does the cut of the fabric. Horizontal stripes can make someone look wider – generally a fashion no-no. Vertical stripes, by analogy, suggest height, just as high heels appear to lengthen the leg. It’s an illusion, but a persuasive one. It lends further credence to the idea that reality is shaped by perception.
Then there are the psychological associations with certain patterns. One might even call them stereotypes. Certain patterns are tied to particular personalities. For example, the checkered shirt brings to mind lumberjacks, ruggedness and cold climates. Hawaiian shirts, as one might expect, suggest the tropical climes of those who are most known for wearing them. But it’s not just lumberjacks who wear checkered shirts, and people from all locales wear Hawaiian clothing.
Where do these perceptions come from? It’s a chicken-and-egg question. Do people associate certain clothes with certain personalities because people of that personality (or geographic location) were the ones to popularize it? Or does that have only tangential relevance, and the real culprit is the exaggeration of pop-culture? If TV portrays certain people as wearing Hawaiian shirts, those who watch TV might associate the one with the other. It’s hard to say.