As probably everybody is aware (even people who only know me online) I have a thing for clothes, costumes, dressing up, etc. Most people who know me in RL focus on this aspect of me a lot, always crowding to see what get-up I am wearing or complimenting me or asking where I bought something or other. Random people on the street or elevators or train will look and say things too. So I would say not only do I enjoy my clothes, but other people enjoy my clothes. (As opposed to hosts of What Not To Wear, who always look like trash, IMO.)
Anyway, today while walking around Fifth Street, passing among crowds of innocuously dressed Tech students, some profs and staff, I started thinking about this drive of mine to dress, my fashion choices, and basically what makes me dress different from the other people. I wondered, why do these other people dress how they do? What is there motivation? What makes somebody wear boring khaki shorts and a polo shirt every single day? Do people want to look boring?
I will admit my POV is MY point of view, i.e. completely subjective, but here are some of my conclusions, based on what I think I understand about most people, and what I know about myself.
I would say that most people choose their clothes by selecting the things that look the most "normal" to them. They look at a rack of clothes, and while something might appeal to them, it appeals because it meets the criteria of being normal but also connecting with them on some level, like being their preferred color (green vs. blue) or having a slogan they like. Outfits and whole wardrobes are built on a perception of acceptable, standard clothing that will "blend in" with what other people wear and therefore be considered "good taste." This is true of people in all different income levels, so most poor people dress like other poor people, and most rich people all wear the same kind of expensive shoes.
Now considering my own tendences, I think I have the opposite sort of drive. I pick out my clothes based on my desire to have clothes few people have, to create an image few people have, and at the same time to express my own taste, which is particular to myself. When I look at a rack of clothes, I am usually looking for the thing that stands out as different, not the thing everybody else has and I want a copy of. (The only exception here is probably all the black tops I have, since I'd saw some of them are totally generic.) Most of the tights I've bought in England and Germany I bought because you would NEVER see somebody in Atlanta wearing them. I have a ton of 50s and 60s dresses in insane colors and patterns b/c they stand out like crazy and are unique. I go for clothes that people will NOTICE. When I put together an outfit, it's based on the notion that everybody around me will be looking at it and interpreting it. It's like a costume really and I'm an actress wearing it. A lot of people in my family would be horrified by this ("Oh, why would you want to attract attention?!") but even though I am very shy in some respects, I just LOVE dressing up and having people look at me!
I don't like "casual" clothes and rarely wear them. When I do, I feel I look dumpy and boring. I don't like T-shirts at all, don't like athletic socks, don't like sneakers much. Jeans are OK but only if they're worn with a great top. Wearing a white Oxford shirt, jeans and Keds is just not in me! When I wear something like that, I feel like some boring person who has given up on life. I want to ornament myself like a Christmas tree! Today I have on high-heel shiny Mary Janes, hot-pink tights, a black midi skirt, a black-white-and-pink sleeveless top from Germany, a pseudo-leather jacket with zippers all over it, and a Polaroid camera purse. It took me about 1 minute to put this outfit together, yet a lot of people would say to me "Oh, you look so dressed up? What's the occasion?" Well, the occasion is LIFE!
I'm not, by the way, saying that there is anything wrong in the behavior of the average person. I just was thinking about how and why I am different, since I am so often confronted with it.
P.S. And what's funny about this is that I was the most HORRIBLE dresser growing up! It took me until I was around 19 to "unlock" my fashion sense and learn to express the voice I'd always had but had never followed. I should find and post some picture of myself and my horrible 80s clothes (as opposed to my current 80s clothes which are nice).