Fashion Takes Brains

Generalizations about how people “should” dress are still upheld today


Justin Pineda

Stylish Intellect: While holding Beloved, and How to Read Literature Like A Professor, both of which are college level books, Liem’s sense of style is still apparent.

Stephanie Liem, Staff Writer

Two girls nonchalantly walk down the hallway: one is wearing a pair of short shorts and chunky bold heels, while the other is wearing something conservative and less attention grabbing. Most people would automatically assume that the girl who puts less effort into her wardrobe or has a preference for modest attire is the more academically inclined of the two. That is not to imply that the girl who prefers less revealing clothing should be upheld as the stereotype of what an intelligent person “should” look like, though it does prove that people are constantly, even without their awareness of it, playing the association game when it comes to judging others.
Despite how rapidly society is advancing, it’s surprising to observe that women are still expected to dress according to their stereotypes.
It seems as if smart girls are bound to this stereotypical persona of being conservative and inconsiderate of their own fashion. Thus, when they contradict traditional perceptions of how they “should” attire themselves, they are immediately criticized for not dressing to their intelligence. Yet, what exactly is “dressing to one’s intelligence?” This misconception that society has formulated not only arouses various contradictions, but holds no validity to it at all. I cannot fathom as to how the level of one’s intellect correlates to how they choose to dress. Is it such a rarity to witness a girl in the top percentage of the school attire to different standards?
Popular American clothing stores that appeal to young women now a days rarely do carry skirts (with the exception of maxi skirts) that extend beyond the knees, much less shorts for that matter. I will not attend school dressed like a nun to fulfill a typical generalization. I dress the way I want to and if I believe that an outfit looks more aesthetically pleasing with a pair of short shorts, or a mesh top, so be it. A girl’s fashion does not define her intellect, nor does it say anything about her eagerness to impress those of the opposite sex. It’s merely a matter of having confidence in one’s own clothes and appearance. According to a study conducted by Northwestern University in 2012, “enclothed cognition” is an ideological concept describing “the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes.” In other words, clothes induce people to take on certain attitudes; they make you feel a certain way and there’s no denying that.
The opposite side to this misconception can also be taken in a negative light. It basically implies that people who are less eloquent or don’t outwardly project their intelligence are inclined to dress a certain way as well. Are crop tops only allowed to be worn by a specific social group? The irrational contradictions within this argument are endless. It is as if to say that someone who wears a heavy load of black makeup would not be expected to attend a religious gathering. Stereotypes and generalizations as a whole apply false images onto people who may not necessarily want to be perceived in that manner.
Fashion is merely an outlet that I, along with many others, use to prove that we have a personalities beyond just our grades. Senior Chloe Green who also shares this dilemma said, “I use the way I dress to take away from the stress of school.”
Although I am still the type to worry endlessly about my academics, I use fashion to paint a different, more artistic and assertive image of myself. You can say it’s an indirect way of defying my own stereotype. No one should need to adjust their fashion to match the expectations of others. I’d say it takes brains to dress well and assemble that perfect outfit.