Wednesday, April 4, 2012

You Are What You Wear

Or at least that is what a new study out of Northwestern University seems to suggest. I recently came across some notes that I had taken during a Business of Art seminar at which the keynote speaker (a highly successful artist) stressed something similar. Namely, artists should dress like the professionals that they are. He argued that dressing like the six-figure earner that he was sent a message to both himself and his clients that he refused to play into the starving artist myth.  
image via everyguyed
  I think the issue for artists is a bit more nuanced. On the one hand, I definitely notice a difference in the way I act depending how I'm dressed for certain occasions. (Think killer new workout clothes vs. shabby sweats at the gym, or smart corporate attire vs. faded yoga pants to fight a traffic ticket.) On the other hand, being a successful artist is only half the polished business model that sells the work. The other half is the creative chaos necessary for making the actual art work. 
So I've compromised. I wear my paint-splattered jeans when I'm creating, and more professional gear when I'm signing contracts or attending gallery openings. It felt a little arbitrary at first, but now it's automatic. 
I'm interested: Do you wear certain clothes for particular tasks? Think it's all rubbish? I'd love to hear your thoughts.


  1. I wear PJs when I'm in the kitchen helping Robert produce- but that will change once we have a kitchen that is open to the public. I'll definitely still wear clothes I don't mind getting chocolate all over, but I won't go so far as to wear flannel pajama pants.

  2. Clothes are definitely an effective method of communication, especially for women. We have far more choices than men, but I felt I was taken more "seriously" when I was wearing a suit in the office than when I was not. A big part of that is the conservative dress code of DC, but probably also the way I saw myself. Now, I dress in a more casual uniform, but feel more like the true me when I wear the "artsy" extras like jewelry and scarves.

  3. So interesting, Ash and Eden! What about the rest of you? Any clothing that you wear to in order to trick yourself into acting a certain way?

  4. Two books that speak about this topic poignantly are Men in Black by J. R. Harvey and Queen of Fashion by Caroline Weber (a book I've been talking about non-stop for three-weeks). Fashion and their symbolic meaning is complex and endless.


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