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Changing My Style; Is It That Big of a Deal?

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Old 09-07-2011, 01:35 PM   #1
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Default Changing My Style; Is It That Big of a Deal?

I always wear all black, had long black hair, black eyeliner, eyeshadow, etc. You get the picture. lol I figure I'm still young, I can get away with the look. But several friends kept telling me I should try to add a little color, that I make people feel very put off...uncomfortable, like they could never relate to me. Of course, I instantly said they're full of it, but I'm open to new things and I've been dressing this way for years anyway. So I got a haircut, dyed it a dark brown and bought some non-black makeup. People actually seem to be a bit more social with me now. Onto my question, is the "all black" look really that intimidating? How do you feel about it? Do you think changing from that style would make that big of a difference when in comes to how people perceive me and interact with me? Anyway, thanks for reading my ramblings; just what I've been thinking a lot about lately!
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Old 09-07-2011, 01:57 PM   #2
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Hi Kaliii. I think you've more or less answered your own question. Whether we like it or not people judge us first for our appearance. That's all they have to go on at first. After they get to know someone then the personality and the kind of person you are comes into play. It may not be fair, but it is human nature. And to some, someone that is in black head to toe may be a bit scary and may look a bit harsh and unapproachable. So I think softening your color palet of clothes, make up and hair may indeed make you seem more approachable. Just my 2 cents.
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Old 09-07-2011, 02:07 PM   #3
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I understand what you're saying, but I guess I haven't really thought about it much before because I tend to be drawn to people with "eccentric" styles.

I should probably be on, What Not To Wear. lol

Last edited by Kaliii : 09-07-2011 at 02:10 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 09-07-2011, 02:42 PM   #4
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I'm not put off by all-black clothing, but pairing it with dyed-black hair and makeup would definitely give me pause, especially if it's an everyday uniform. I would view that person, at least initially, as less approachable or perhaps even having depressive or violent tendencies. If I then got to know that person as being different from my initial impression, I would wonder why she chose to present herself that way.

So all in all I guess I'm not surprised by your observations of the social changes precipitating from your slight change in appearance. I hope you're pleased with them.
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Old 09-07-2011, 02:55 PM   #5
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Yep, like the previous poster, all black - head to toe is goth. And goth is more than just a look usually, but a lifestyle. So, if you aren't into that stuff, you aren't going to be drawn to someone who appears to be. If you look more mainstream, you are going to appeal to more people (though maybe less to people who seek out other goth types).
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Old 09-07-2011, 03:18 PM   #6
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I had a really good friend of mine who was into the goth look and wore all black for a long time. She did eventually start wearing more color and, wow, it really made her look gorgeous! Not that she wasn't before but it brought out her eyes and made her look a bit healthier too (she's rather pale, in general).

I also have a tendency to wear quite a bit black so I'm really working to get away from that. I actually noticed that my all black outfits weren't that flattering on me and ended up making my skin look really really pale too. Adding a bit of color has helped a lot! You don't have to go overboard and look like a My Little Pony cartoon but maybe just start like you did, add a bit of brown, maybe accessorize a black outfit with a red belt, stuff like that.
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Old 09-07-2011, 03:36 PM   #7
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I'm extremely pale, so I'm sure the black clothing doesn't help any. lol I'm not all too concerned about how others perceive me but I do find it to be quite interesting. I've been thinking it's definitely time for a change. I've been dressing more or less the same way for the past 11 years. Thankfully, I think I'll be able to dress myself decently in colors. My fear is putting together an outfit, not matching at all and being oblivious.
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Old 09-08-2011, 04:09 AM   #8
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Ugh. I HAD to respond to this one... the stereotype thing is killing me!

I have black hair because I like the way it looks with my skin.
My uniform at work is- all black.
I also wear alot of black because it hides my cat hair/fat rolls/sweat stains well.
I'm frustrated to think that this might make someone think that I am "violent or depressive"

Dear God! It's a color! I know that how we present ourselves is important but it can be such a downer sometimes!

I think people are just lazy and often find it simpler to believe that all people fit into some kind of box.

Sorry if I came off rude... I just find the whole "must present self in a safe way so as not to offend people or cause them to think I'm violent" thing unfortunate.
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Old 09-08-2011, 04:57 AM   #9
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Coming from the side who used to sit at the goth/drama/art table, I have to say it never put me off. (Though I never partook in the all black myself.)

Anywho, it did put some people off, yes. And it will always put some people off. Sometimes that's the point. Sometimes that's not at all the point.

It's usually a bit off-putting to people who would want to stop and wonder "Why is that person wearing all black?" Whereas they wouldn't stop and wonder at a person who is wearing khakis. I always found that to be odd.

I guess I put it into a category of what style is appropriate to where I am. I wouldn't wear hoochie clubbing clothes to work. I wouldn't wear a bathrobe out shopping. (Although I did have a friend in high school who wore a bathrobe over his clothing for a year...)

If I'm out on my own, doing my thing, I get to wear what I want.

However, better than any clothing is a smile. Brief eye contact, and a sincere smile works wonders.

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All that being said, there's nothing wrong with change. And wanting to change your style for any reason your heart desires is fine!

If you've already decided to add in a bit of color for fun, do it one piece at a time. Keep the black pants and shoes, but buy a top that comes in your favorite color. Or start buying some pieces of jewelry with bits of color. Or a purse. Start small, and over time you'll build up more confidence with pairing colors.

As an example: My general rule for professional environments is wear 1 bright or eyecatching piece, and keep the rest of the outfit subdued.

PS - Having a full-length mirror will help so you can see the overall outfit.
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Old 09-08-2011, 05:58 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaala View Post
Dear God! It's a color! I know that how we present ourselves is important but it can be such a downer sometimes!

I think people are just lazy and often find it simpler to believe that all people fit into some kind of box.

Sorry if I came off rude... I just find the whole "must present self in a safe way so as not to offend people or cause them to think I'm violent" thing unfortunate.
It's not lazy, it's actually survival technique the brain uses to process information psychologists called a schema. The human mind tries to make sense of the world by identifying patterns. It helps to avoid information overload and allow the individual to make quick decisions. In this situation, a fair number of young people who act in a more "dark" way than others wear very dark clothes and dark makeup. It is a very natural reaction then for the human mind to associate continued sightings of that same type of outfit with that type of behavior.

I completely confess to doing that. Just as I confess to immediately assuming someone with a cableknit sweater is rich and preppy.

I don't think there's much we can do to shake our brain from involuntary associations and pattern interpretations. What we can do is try to ensure our voluntary thought that follows is rational. That if we have a chance to get to know or talk with someone to view them as an individual.

But that won't change the immediate first impression people have of you. It's going to be really difficult if you wear a certain type of all-black clothing and makeup to *not* be perceived, at least in a knee-jerk fashion, by others as "goth" or "violent" or "dark." It's an involuntary psychological response the brain elicits at first sight.

That said, if you like all black, the way it looks, that it compliments your body type and skin, there are absolutely other ways to reflect that. A really nice-fitting all-black shirt and dark jeans or black slacks can look very striking and elegant. Especially paired with one unique or colorful accessory it can be a really nice expression of your preferences.

There's nothing wrong with wearing what you want. But if you are concerned with it interfering with the way you interact with others, there are different ways you can modify it to still express yourself while minimalizing stereotypes with which you associate yourself.
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Old 09-08-2011, 08:51 AM   #11
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If people were randomly assigned an outfit (and hair style and makeup) each day, it would not make sense to make any assumptions about a person from their style (though that still might not stop us -- there are some color associations that go deeper than culture).

But people choose how to present themselves and if they intentionally pick a look that that has anti-mainstream associations, they can expect that it will be off-putting to a lot of mainstream folks (but it might attract others of the same style). This can be a feature, depending on what you are trying to achieve. If that's not what you want, try something else.

You could find a highly personalized style that works for you -- super eccentric -- without identifying with any particular microculture (e.g. goth). My daughter seems to pull that off. She finds things in thrift stores and puts them together and it all looks great on her. She has done this since a wee age, has always rejected mainstream culture and although her adoption of her style predates it, she is a hipster in the ideal sense (not the hipster formula that has come into being).
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Old 09-08-2011, 01:00 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by indiblue View Post
That said, if you like all black, the way it looks, that it compliments your body type and skin, there are absolutely other ways to reflect that. A really nice-fitting all-black shirt and dark jeans or black slacks can look very striking and elegant. Especially paired with one unique or colorful accessory it can be a really nice expression of your preferences.

There's nothing wrong with wearing what you want. But if you are concerned with it interfering with the way you interact with others, there are different ways you can modify it to still express yourself while minimalizing stereotypes with which you associate yourself.
Agreed. I wear all black most of the time, have dark skin, and have dark eyes/hair, but I'm a fan of non-traditionally colored shoes and jewelry that is bold. I don't think I've ever been thought of as goth aside from when I hung out with a semi-goth crowd and would wear chunky chain necklaces as a teen.

I know that my heeled boots, big jewelry and sweater-dresses aren't the epitome of business casual. I rock it out because I like it, but I know the time and place to put on my suit.
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Old 09-08-2011, 02:32 PM   #13
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I guess where you're living makes a difference too. In NYC tons of people wear all black, or lots of black. Is your style goth? When I first came to NY in my 20s, I wore a lot of black too. It actually makes sense in terms of if you wear white, when you live in the city expect it to get dirty VERY fast.

Colors lift my mood, so I'd imagine the colors I wear must influence other people too. Though I'd say add color if you want to, and add the colors you want. I like that extra dimension to my wardrobe. And trying new styles once in a while that I haven't before. I can't say I'm any kind of fashionista, but hey, ha. I have a couple of pink shirts/blouses now that I love, years ago I wouldn't have had any interest.

I wouldn't worry about mismatching, since it's a pitfall we're pretty much all guilty of at one time or another. It's pretty funny how often you see these yahoo stories/slide shows with famous women and their fashion blunder outfits.
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Old 09-08-2011, 04:04 PM   #14
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Oops. Edited post because I don't read thoroughly enough!

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Old 09-09-2011, 12:04 AM   #15
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Someone wearing all black doesn't necessarily make me think goth-- but there are two ways to do it. There's preppy clothing in all black like Victoria's Secret employees or some restaurant employees wear, and then there's the all black "distressed" type look, and with dark makeup, dyed black hair, etc., then yes, I think goth, and yes, I'll admit to stereotyping and thinking "violient".

If I thought about it for more than a split second, then of course I would realize that the person is probably harmless, but it doesn't change my immediate thought perception. Right or wrong, that is how the vast majority of people think.

I'm not surprised you're getting a different reaction now. People judge so much based on appearance and clothing-- not all in a bad way, either. We all have perceptions from our past or our cultural surroundings, and we all assume at least some things based on looks.

If peoples' reactions before were bothering you, or if you feel happier in colors, or just want to make a change, there's nothing wrong with that. I agree with others, too-- black can wash you out, and most people look better in colors that flatter their skintone.
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