Clothing As A Form of Communication

Clothing is a form of nonverbal communication that tells much to the viewer about the wearer. Before people even get to know each other, they can make assumptions about the other person’s age, occupation, religion, cultural belief and social status just by their clothing. Many people make these assumptions and judge other people without even realizing it.

As per, it is important to note that the assumptions may vary with different individuals. Here are some assumptions based on clothing:

Social Status

In some societies, people wear clothing for social status. For instance, most politicians tend to wear impressive clothing like a dress or suit and tie in order to give the impression that they are important in the society. However, it is assumed that politicians who wear casual clothing like jeans and a t-shirt want to identify with the public. In the western cultures, it is assumed that the haute couture is for the rich and individuals in high ranking.

Religious and Culture Affiliation

Certain types of clothing are based on religious affiliations. All religions have precincts of clothing that its people are judged by. If you see a woman wearing a sari, you might tend to think that she is from the Hindu or Indian community. A French woman declares her clan or village with her coif or cap.

Occupation and Academic Standing

There are also assumptions on various clothing based on the type of occupation. A certain type of clothing can declare one’s occupation. For instance, a doctor is expected to wear a lab coat and be neat while a casual laborer is expected to be dressed in dirty garments. While it is assumed that all police and military officers wear uniform, this might not always be the case.

You can also identify occupations by a single accessory. For instance, a chief cook is expected to wear a chef’s hat. Businesspeople and lawyers are identified by a well-tailored suit, college students by their academic attire and school children by their uniforms.

Marital Status

In some cultures, the type of clothing you wear will tell about your marital status in the society. In the Western culture, wedding rings are mostly used to show that one is married. In the Hindu community, married women wear a red powder (sindoor) in the parting of their hair. If they are widowed, they remove the sindoor and instead wear simple white clothing.

Age and Clothing

Nowadays, teenagers are using clothes as a form of communication unlike in the past. You can almost tell about someone’s age by the clothes they wear. With their dressing styles, teens try to exert their independence and express their political, cultural and social views non-verbally. For instance, before the 1950’s, teens used to wear like adults, and their political and social views were assumed to be the same as that of older people.

They, however, changed their clothing to jeans and custom t-shirts for boys and poodle skirts for girls. This has allowed them to show their different attitudes and establish their independence.

Your clothing communicates a lot about you and your personality. People often make assumptions and pass judgments based on a person’s clothing. This is because clothing is a form of non-verbal communication and always gives a first impression.

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