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Clothes as non-verbal communication
Transcript of Clothes as non-verbal communication
“It is impossible to wear clothes without transmitting social signals. Every costume tells a story, often a very subtle one, about its wearer.”
Desmond Morris, human behaviorist
Clothing as a Signal
People are defined by what’s inside, not by their outward appearances.
Clothes play an important role in communicating with others:
– transmit social signals
– related to self-perception
Messages Given Through Clothing
Personality (outgoing/shy, talkative/quiet, confident/unsure
Emotions (happy, sad)
Values and beliefs
Occupation and status
- to analyse the importance of clothing and artefacts as means of nonverbal communication.
1. The functions of clothing
2. Artefacts as a type of nonverbal communication
3. The connection between clothing and gender
4. The importance of clothing in organizations
5. The meaning of clothes across cultures
6. Practical analysis
Functions of clothing
Harris and Nelson (2008)
ATTITUDE and PERSUASION
STATUS OR ROLE DISPLAY
reveal insights about an individual and/or the group or culture that a person belongs to.
Clothes and gender
Clothes is one of the ways to determine the sex.
Clothing for babies. Pink vs. blue
Woods: “although clothing has become less sex-distinctive than in former eras, fashions for women and men still differ in the world”
Colours, functionality, attractiveness
Artefacts as a type of nonverbal communication
Wood: “an artefact is a personal object that influences how we see ourselves and expresses the identity we create for ourselves”
Knapp and Hall: badges, tattoos, masks, earrings, personal aids and devices (glasses, watches), accessories (hats), and jewellery.
Importance of clothing in organizations
- can be optional / obligatory
- influences the way people act and feel in organizations
- tells about the position a person takes in a company
Bixler and Nix-Rice (1997):
“in past years, appropriate business dress was fairly clear cut, but today’s dress codes range from traditional to casual and vary from company to company”
Jones (1996): "when employees are allowed to dress more casually, their morale, as well as their productivity, increases significantly"
Hamilton (2008): “clothing is so important to an organization’s image that many companies have hired image consultants to help select the most appropriate clothing for their employees”
1. differentiate one class or group from another
2. provide a common sense of identification for the group wearing them
Clothes and culture
Clothing as one of the indicators that tells where a person is from.
Samovar and Porter (2009): “in much of the world, people still dress in their traditional garments.”
“garment must be a ‘flowing’ one, that is, a woman must avoid tight or clinging clothes which exaggerate her figure, or any part of it, such as breasts, legs or arms”
Men of Iraq tell others about their status their kaffi yas (headpieces). An all-white kaffi ya means the person has not yet made the pilgrimage to Mecca”
Headdresses for men - typically worn by Arabs, Kurds and some Turks.
Due to globalization, wider and more similar choices of clothes exist
Analysis of clothing and artefacts in television shows
Types of TV shows:
1. debates (formal)
2. talk shows (less formal)
3. reality shows (least formal)
Formal clothing worn by moderators and participants
Men - a suit, a shirt, and a tie.
Women - conservative suits and dresses
Dark and neutral colours
Clothes cover up a lot of body
No exceptional artefacts
Majority of participants - politicians
Saving face - keeping reputation and the respect of other people
Participants - celebrities, politicians, un-known people
Less constrained setting than in debate shows
Clothes vary depending on guests and topics discussed.
From formal costumes to casual outfits
More colourful clothes
Covering less body
The use of accessories
Casual clothes preferred by both sexes
Formal clothes for special occasions
Primary aim - entertain and to show off yourself
Femininity and masculinity emphasized
Women wear tight and open garments
Cultural differences and individual tastes in artefacts cause different reactions (positive, negative, or a mixture of both)
Clothes as expression of cultural identity
A symbol of modesty, privacy and morality.
Traditional ethnic garments mainly worn for ceremonies and special events.
Clothes are one of the non-verbal signals which inevitably transmit social signals
Clothes are closely related to self-representation
Clothes are a part of culture and each culture develops its own fashion of appearance and symbols of agreed meaning.
Wider and more similar choices of clothes because of the globalization processes
The small-scale analysis showed that the differences in clothing in various programmes are present and choices being made often depend on the type of a programme and the participants invited.
In TV debates, formal, classical and usually dark clothes prevail and only a minimal amount of artefacts is worn. The reason for such formal clothing lies in the fact that the guests in these programmes are people in authority who need to preserve their reputation.
Clothing in various talk shows is usually less formal as the participants of such programmes can be famous as well as unknown people. Bright colours and artefacts are more frequent if celebrities are invited and when less serious topics are discussed.
In reality shows clothing is the least formal because of the atmosphere and the format of such programmes: participants come to entertain themselves rather than talk about serious matters, thus casual, more open and tighter clothes are common.
Some programmes are very popular in some regions (e.g. Europe and North America) but are almost absent in the countries with certain political regime or religious beliefs the observations made are not universal and cannot be overgeneralised.
by Edita Niaurienė