Wardrobe consultant Anna Akbari says getting an expert in to analyze your look, to emphasize the good and chuck out the bad, is not just for celebrities. Akbari, who has a PhD in visual sociology and specializes in self-presentation, says sorting out your closet can be a genuine cathartic experience.
Akbari explains that we are emotionally attached to items of clothing and their history. Sorting out our clothes is a therapeutic process that goes beyond aesthetics. Her focus is on the relationship between the visual appearance and self-presentation and how this affects one’s ability to claim power. Clothing allows people to play with the different facets of their identity.
The people that reach out to wardrobe consultants are generally going through some form of transition. They could be wanting a new job or dating new people. It’s an identity construction, the shedding of an old self and embracing of something new.
“My aim is to boost self esteem and confidence,” Akbari argues.
“Our clothes are an extension of our bodies and our identity and our social success depends on our ability to communicate, our intelligence, and our appearance — we come as a package.”
The reason for this, she explains, is that we live in a visual society, where we see first and then act on the perceived observation.
In one glance at someone there is no time to learn much about them and appearance becomes paramount.
Frivolous or functional
Akbari’s clients are no fashionistas, nor do they consider themselves fashionable. The sartorial choices people make subconsciously tend to reflect how they feel. Our relationship with clothes is much more profound than we acknowledge.