It’s not only a tool to understand the past, though. Fashion can bring us a greater understanding of our own internal world—what we choose to wear is a direct reflection of our hopes, dreams, anxieties, and fears—and nobody understands that correlation quite like fashion psychologist Dawnn Karen. As an FIT professor, founder of the Fashion Psychology Institute, and author of titles such as Dress Your Best Life: How to Use Fashion Psychology to Take Your Look—and Your Life—to the Next Level, you could say that Karen is a leading expert on the topic.
As for what a fashion psychologist actually does, well, Karen describes work as “creating an alignment between the internal and the external, or the attitude and the attire.” She studies how color, image, style, shape and beauty affect human behavior, and has written extensively on the topic, so when we spoke about the major influences on spring 2023 style, she had a lot of thoughts.
“If you think about the series of global events that have occurred in the past three years—the pandemic, war, racial tensions, gun violence—there’s a slew of events that are affecting us collectively,” Karen pointed out, and while these are likely to be on your mind reading the morning news, she argues that they’re what define our collective psyche and, therefore, what’s on our minds as we get dressed and move throughout the rest of our day.