Let’s put the masks down for a moment and be real; modern living is exhausting.
If you’re a regular, you’ve read a lot by now about how Fashion impacts everything, in both overt and subtle ways, and you might have found yourself thinking “that’s all great, but now I have more things to think about, not less, so thanks Nina…”
And that’s fair, I hear you.
I’m not here to pile on to exhaustion. I promised that Fashion can help you in every facet of your life, and I’m here today to start delivering some workable plans.
All those amazing ways that fashion can impact the conscious and subconscious mind? Let’s put them into action, the easy way.
So, how exactly do we do that?
Well, the curious among you, with free time, might have already gone on to find out a bunch of specific examples wherein stylistic decisions affect things, like a real-life-lore version of the Media Fashion Tropes.
You can find thousands of them, as many as there are cuts and colours, materials and masquerades, and they’ll work too, but it’s kinda like imitating somebody by trying to copy every tiny detail of who they are and how they carry themselves. It’s just not pragmatic, to say the least, and usually context-reliant.
Copying superficialities like that can lead to results, but it’s a pale imitation compared to somebody embodying a persona directly.
The real game-changer is becoming the character that created all those details in the first place so you don’t have to think about the nuances because they’ll resolve themselves.
So what does all that mean, practically?
Well, imagine if you were an actor, and you had a part to play. You could rote-memorise some exact actions and movements, facial expression, some tonal similarities you’ll need in some scenes, and that would be enough… for those specifc scenes.
Or you could just go full-method and try to mentally become that person and get to see what that character would do when put in any scene.
Ok, that wasn’t very practical yet, but it’ll make sense soon, I promise. Let’s bring some science into the theory so we can start applying it.
Be Better By Being Batman
"The Batman Effect" is what happens when you use an alter-ego to do something positive; get through something, figure something out, perform something etc.
It’s a cognitive strategy that we all often use in mild ways; after all, the human brain is a natural storyteller, even to itself.
Independently of each other, both neuroscientists and Beyonce have both found the same thing; using an alter-ego consciously can help you control undesirable feelings like anxiety, increase your perseverance on challenging tasks and boost your cognitive abilities, including self-control.
In her own words, while explaining her unapologetic stage presence to the big O;
“Usually, when I hear the chords, when I put on my stilettos, like the moment right before when you’re nervous…then Sasha Fierce appears, and my posture and the way I speak, everything is different.” — Beyoncé (2008 Oprah Winfrey Show)
Beyonce could’ve worn some fierce stilettos and tried to push through it, shifted her posture to try to imitate confidence, and that would work on plenty of people, but not everyone, including the most important person; her.
Like a magic trick that only works when you’re looking at it from a specific angle, it just doesn’t cover everything.
What Beyonce did instead is let Sasha Fierce take over; Beyonce puts her worries and thoughts aside as she embodies an entirely different persona. There is nothing to fake since Sasha is a confident performer. Sasha chose those stilettos.
In the exact same manner, we can all tailor up the person we want.
In fact, I’m pretty convinced that we all already do that, but just on a micro level; every time you choose your outfit, you’re choosing the visual components that are going to be making you up today. Components that you associate with certain feelings, ideas, perspectives…
What the Batman Effect allows us to do is take this natural story-telling mechanism of the brain and focus it to yield much greater results. Like a surgical laser making precise cuts to help someone heal, so too can we create a version of us without all the negative things we know don’t need to be there.
They’re just kinda stuck to us sometimes, almost out of habit, but do you know who they’re not stuck to?
Rachel and Fae
A fellow Fashionista that’s found her alter-ego is Rachel from New York. Rachel’s alter-ego is a jumping-off point for her to branch out creatively, taking inspiration from books, movies, shows and whatever else happens to catch her eye.
She explains it best on her insta;
“This is my 'Fashion Alter Ego', who I’ve decided to call Fae for short.
She has a thirst for chaotic fun, and she steals my partner’s hat.
On my style journey, I’ve occasionally found it useful to imagine myself into a different character - perhaps mimicking someone specifically or even inventing a unique personality in my head.
This has helped me overcome shyness, imposter syndrome, boredom, and even gender constructs within my personal style. It’s helped me reinvent my wardrobe time and time again.”
I had a chat with Rachel about Fae and Fashion and I gotta say, she’s a true veteran when it comes to breathing life into alter-egos through her wardrobe choices.
In her own words;
“Fae is a character manifestation of that voice we all have inside of us that asks ‘What if…?’ about our personal style.”
She says it all started back in high-school when she one day decided to wear red Converse-sneakers and match them with a skirt made out of… wait for it … t-shirts.
Rachel wore that outfit for a school presentation, and to this day she swears that it was the outfit that gave her the confidence she needed to nail the presentation.
It was also her origin story when it comes to her Fashion Powers. But, like a lot of superheroes, it wasn’t until she really needed it again that her powers truly awakened…
During the pandemic lockdowns, Rachel found herself digging through her wardrobe and curating outfits out of boredom, often inspired by the media she watched to pass the time.
This is when she masterfully rose to the occasion and provided both herself and the world a crowd of characters carefully curated out of a closet of clothing.
OK, I could’ve just said “wardrobe” but we had a whole “c” thing going there for a second…
Bad alliteration aside, there’s a lot to learn from Rachel. When I asked her how one gets started on creating their own “Fae”, this is what she said;
“Choose a favorite character or pop culture icon whose style you LOVE.
Choose a few of their outfits to study and ask yourself *why* exactly you love them. Is it the colour, texture, and quality of the fabric? A recurring silhouette? Maybe just a singular piece that captivates you. Baby-step your way toward incorporating whatever you love about this person’s style into your own wardrobe.
Go to a store with the intention of trying on everything for novelty — not to buy, but simply to study! Make a point to try on things you feel that you 'can’t' and/and or whatever you feel drawn toward. Maybe even what you’re repulsed by! Take notes as you do so.”
The lockdown frustration, anxiety… those were Rachel’s triggers that sparked the creation of an alter-ego, and frankly, will probably strike a chord with a lot of us. But they don’t have to be yours, nor do you have to take inspiration from the same things she did.
The idea of putting your finger on what exactly it is you like about something, or how something makes you feel, and then recreating that in a manner that makes others feel that way, that’s universal advice right there.
Bruce Wayne created Batman after his parents were murdered by criminals as a way to avenge them and rid Gotham City of crime; Batman was there to beat up the people Bruce couldn’t. I hope your trigger isn’t anything as dark as what the Dark Knight went through, but the point is, the metaphor is apt.
As we go through life, we very slowly pick up connections and associations to things, like a snowball slowly growing in size. But the snowball isn’t us; it’s just the outer shell we’ve built. We could’ve been anyone, and that’s the entire point; we still can.
Having an alter-ego allows you to break free from the snowball and mold yourself into whatever kind of fashionable snow-shape you want.
So think on the problems in your life and then look into your closet; who do you see there that could easily solve them for you?
Read more about how Fashion affects you.