Sunday, September 5, 2010

You are what you Shop: How Clothes and Books reflect Personal Attitudes

Cover of Edmond Rostand's play "Cyrano de Bergerac"



In a materialistic consumer world, your shopping defines who you are. The style or brand names you choose to wear, your clothes, shoes and accessories give substantial clues about what kind of person you are, what attitudes you cherish.

A business-person could be spotted from miles away, while goths have their own way of setting themselves equally apart from the rest of society; all this time, well-groomed artists and musicians are hard to find since that would, more often than not, contradict the image we associate with them.

Each of us is instantly communicating with others simply and non-verbally with our appearance. Of course, some of us -me- are not that aware of what kind of messages we give off since we have mostly undervalued and under-appreciated the force and pull of fashion. But experience has taught us -me again- that you cannot go to a job interview with a Labatt (beer label) shirt and expect to get lucky.

Although I am not a fond member of the consumer society, I can see how it can be of importance for certain groups of people. Many thrive on their style; it's “do or die” for them. They need to make a good impression and would like to get your attention on the get-go. For them there is a gaping world of difference between “brand” and “no brand.” It becomes an existential matter of “to be” or “not to be.”

And your shopping habits do reflect who you are. For me, it is not so much about clothes, but books. When I see a cherished book or philosopher in the hands of a commuter, I immediately label the person and feel a strange affinity toward them even though I have never met them before. They are then either beatniks, pessimists, neurotics, romantics, existentialists in my mind based solely on the impression of their books. I do not necessarily judge the book by its cover, but the person by their books.

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