Fashion Psychology, Inauguration Style

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There’s significance to what presidents, presidential candidates, first families and other important figures wear, especially to events like the inauguration. Dr. Dong Shen, a California State University professor, explained to ABC 10 how clothing color in particular has a psychology behind it, dictating what should and shouldn’t be worn in the spotlight.

For example, Barack Obama wore a blue tie and Donald Trump a red one to the inauguration, which each indicate their own political party. The symbol of political alliance often finds expression in ties for men, since the traditional colors for former wear prevail pretty universally, whether in suits or white shirts.

First daughters Ivanka and Tiffany Trump wore white, which Shen said frequently symbolizes innocence and purity, or healing. According to Shen, the connotation of purity probably prevailed for those two, but Hillary Clinton, who also wore white, probably indicated healing.

First ladies, whose fashion is carefully chosen and watched, often dress in a way that indicates a supporting role, Shen said. Melania Trump’s choice of a soft blue dress, jacket, gloves and heels is in the usual set of colors president’s wives have worn.

On the other hand, Michelle Obama’s red dress brings passion and energy to mind, said Shen.

Donald and Melania Trump represented red, white and blue together with their outfits. Barack and Michelle Obama also completed the flag’s colors together. The patriotic combination signals a kind of unity and was probably deliberate.

And even those outside the first family display sartorial meaning. The internet has seen a stirring over Kellyanne Conway’s outfit. Conway, a presidential counselor, wore an ensemble covering patriotic colors. She chose a militarily double breasted blue and white coat by Gucci, and red contrasted on the gloves, a hat, and collar. Although Conway said that the outfit was supposed to recall revolution, Shen said the combination of colors resembled a costume instead. This explains, to an extent, some of the negative reactions Conway’s outfit has received.

Shen indicated that the meaning of an outfit might not be deliberate; the subconscious can be meaningful as well.

However, harnessing the psychology of color and style deliberately could benefit politicians, if only with managing impressions.

I'm a lover of words in all forms, sweatshirts in all conditions, and God in all circumstances. I particularly enjoy working collaboratively on the written word and wearing microfiber robes (preferably at the same time). Most of the time I don't get enough sleep, but I make a valiant effort.

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