With its allure of glamor and excitement, it’s no surprise that many individuals seek a career within the fashion industry. It’s a world that allows creatives to unleash their imagination and connect with like-minded individuals.
Whether you’re designing or styling chic clothes and accessories, the fashion industry has a lot to offer in terms of career paths. But do you need to be a graduate of Parsons or Central Saint Martins to make it in the fashion world? Not necessarily.
There are plenty of people with non-fashion backgrounds that have become successful in the industry. Psychology in particular is a field that can lead to a successful career in fashion. The two spheres have more crossover than you realize! Find out how you can go into fashion with a psychology degree below.
How does psychology relate to fashion?
Although psychology and fashion may seem worlds apart at first glance, the two are more closely linked than meets the eye. One is the study of human behavior, the other is a form of self-expression. Both are linked to the mind.
After all, our clothes can have a major impact on our moods. They also dictate how others perceive us. Many of us choose our garments based on a desire to fit in with our peers, be it through the latest runway trends or styles commonly associated with subcultures.
Alternatively, fashion can be used to distance ourselves from societal norms or expectations that we don’t agree with. It only took one rebellious woman to encourage an entire generation of female empowerment by simply wearing pants!
Psychology is an observation of our innermost thoughts, feelings, and desires. Fashion is a way to present them to the outside world. It’s why we wear suits when we want to feel powerful, form-fitting clothes when we want to feel sexy, or loose, soft clothes when we want to relax.
It’s why colors are associated with certain moods or occasions. This phenomenon, now referred to as enclothed cognition, dictates that our clothing has a direct impact on our behavior. A cheerful yellow blouse is a prime candidate for mood enhancement theory – the act of dressing in a way that boosts one’s disposition and confidence. On the other hand, pulling on your favorite gray sweatpants after a stressful day at work might inspire you to let your worries go and wind down.
Sports psychologist Dr. John Fader has found that the right activewear can increase athletic performance, a notion that rings true across all types of apparel. Dressing for success isn’t just a myth told to us by career advisors; it’s a tried and true method for influencing our mindset!
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Abilities that both psychologists and fashion designers have
Those already working within the fashion industry may not realize it, but psychology is at the core of every garment and accessory. From design features to advertising compositions or product placement in retail stores, human behavior is carefully considered. Psychologists and fashion designers alike have an excellent knowledge of how the human mind works, and what drives our desires.
A designer may create a bias-cut silk dress with the goal of making the wearer feel elegant and feminine. A creative director will then create an advertising campaign featuring the dress in a luxurious setting, like an extravagant hotel or an upscale restaurant, to paint a picture of how the dress will make potential customers feel or suggest occasions where the dress can be worn.
Finally, a visual merchandiser will strategically place the dress in a retail store’s prime sightline, alongside other garments and accessories that can be styled with the dress to subconsciously promote additional purchases.
Having a background in psychology can help designers, buyers, trend forecasters, and salespeople thoroughly understand consumer needs. An acute awareness of human behavior is crucial throughout the fashion industry, from the initial design of a garment to the advertising and even the manufacturing process.
Any industry expert will tell you that selling is not about highlighting the garment itself; it’s about conveying how the garment will make the wearer feel. If anything, having a background in psychology is a massive benefit in the fashion industry!
The emergence of fashion psychology
Those that want to instantly combine their passions for fashion and psychology can now pursue their dream career. Fashion psychology is a new field within the industry, with courses now being taught at prestigious institutions like the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York and the London College of Fashion.
Currently led by pioneers such as Dawnn Karen, Carolyn Mair, and Dion Terrelonge, fashion psychology can be described as the study and treatment of fashion’s effect on human behavior. It explores how different colors, styles, images, shapes, beauty standards, and cultural norms affect our mood and self-esteem.
Aside from conducting academic research, a fashion psychologist works with individuals and companies to curate style advice that works with societal perceptions, enhances self-esteem, and aligns with personal and professional goals.
A personal shopper or stylist might simply choose clothes that complement their client’s coloring or figure, but a fashion psychologist will help their client find clothes that resonate with them on an emotional level.
Musician Chris Rob, one of Dawnn Karen’s clients, has shared that her personalized approach helped him build his confidence and in turn enhanced his performance skills. Karen believes that her field is needed more than ever in today’s increasingly perceptive market.
Consumers are more aware and passionate about important topics such as diversity, cultural sensitivity, and sustainability. They want to purchase from brands that share their values, which is where fashion psychologists come in. Their expertise allows them to advise brands on marketing and advertising tactics that will appeal to their target customers in a genuine manner.
While fashion business leaders focus purely on trends and analytics, fashion psychologists dig deeper to find the core desires that drive consumer behavior. These go further back than simple demographics; fashion psychologists study traditional beauty standards, societal norms, and individual needs.
Consulting with a skilled fashion psychologist may help a brand boost sales and avoid problematic marketing campaigns, making them a potentially integral part of any team.
What other professions can you do with a psychology degree?
Having a psychology degree doesn’t limit you to a career as a psychologist. Having in-depth knowledge of the human mind can aid you in any career that deals with people and their behaviors. You can also pursue a career in sales, marketing, public relations, education, social work, human resources, or market research analytics.
All of these careers require a strong ability to connect with humans. A psychology degree will help you close sales, think of relatable ad campaigns, and influence people to adopt new habits or study new subjects.
Your psychology degree is incredibly useful in a wide variety of fields. You’ll surely put it to excellent use in both your personal and professional life. Whether you find yourself in a design studio or in an analyst’s office, your knowledge of the human mind will assist you along every step in your career path!