Q&A: Dawnn Karen Talks Fashion Psychology

Fashion Psychologist Dr. Dawnn Karen, author of Dress Your Best Life, talks about her new book and how to look and feel your best.

Q: What is fashion psychology?

Karen: In my book Dress Your Best Life I have defined the Fashion Psychology Field as the study and treatment of how color, image, style, shape, and beauty affect human behavior while addressing cultural norms and cultural sensitivities. In simplest terms, this essentially means to style from the inside out.

Q: Any advice for what to wear on Zoom meetings?

Karen: Utilize my Mood Enhancement Theory by dressing to optimize your current mood. According to a recent study, American women are prioritizing purchasing fashion staples right now, with sweaters being the most popular (33%) (Source: Honey). If you’re going into a zoom call feeling a bit off, dress to improve your mood. If it’s a sweater, go for a brighter color than you’re used to wearing. Oftentimes, zoom meetings can feel exhaustive so it is important to boost emotions utilizing clothing.

Q: How do you pick the perfect outfit? Any fashion no-nos?

Karen: You pick the perfect outfit by starting first with your mood. Determine what you are feeling or how you are feeling and then dress accordingly. You can implore the mood enhancement dress theory (previously mentioned) or the mood illustration dress theory. Mood illustration dress theory is when someone dresses to perpetuate their current mood. Ultimately, creating an alignment between the attitude and attire is the way to go.

Q: How has social media affected the fashion industry?

Karen: Social media has brought the fashion industry to our homes.  We can scroll and click to see looks we like and then immediately purchase. We as Americans can utilize social media to find and share deals with family and friends. We’re seeing this occur more now than before due to the pandemic. Social media has also made space for indie designers and models of all shapes, sizes, cultures, and backgrounds that may have been overlooked.

Q: What does the latest research show about our fashion behavior?

Karen: Many Americans have unfortunately experienced a decrease in income due to COVID and are finding higher value in versatile and fast fashion.

Q: In the past, we kept it a secret when we got a bargain, why and how has that changed?

Karen: Discounts were once associated with misfortune but now in these uncertain times being thrifty signals financial mindfulness and planning which are increasingly attractive and trendy. Over 50% of Americans say they find thriftiness to be attractive so coupon clipping in private is a thing of the past and expect to see deals on social and even dating platforms.  People want to share the love and their knowledge, and help others save as well. Thriftiness (deal sharing) has even become a covert way of flirting!

Q: Should a consumer pay ticketed price if they love an item?

Karen: If consumers don’t want to experience a psychological whiplash aka buyer’s remorse, I suggest purchasing an item on a deal would be gratifying in two ways. One they’ll feel euphoric buying something they love, and two that euphoria will increase when discovering they’ve saved money. This creates a permanent overall satisfying and happy experience, not a fleeting one.

Q: Why do we get a high when we buy something for less than the ticketed price?

Karen: Shopping and other compulsive behaviors stimulate the brain in the same way any addiction does.  Though shopping with the intention to save allows us to incorporate mindfulness and minimalism, to avoid buyer’s remorse and buying an excessive number of items. There is also a delight to discovering a deal especially when it’s unexpected.