The Power of Fashion

Ladies and gentlemen, let's talk about Adam and Eve now for the heathens in the crowd today. Adam and Eve is a story from the Bible and it's about the first human beings who are created by God and they lived naked in the Garden of Eden. The Garden of Eden was gorgeous. There was this luscious place and these two had to fulfill just one condition to live. There don't eat a fruit from the forbidden tree. It sounds really easy right. The tree literally has the word forbidden in its name. Apparently, it wasn't because one day, Adam and Eve decide to eat an apple from the tree and the moment they take a bite, they realize they're naked and they feel really embarrassed. So they run around the garden trying to find leaves to cover themselves up. Am I skipping some parts of that story? Definitely, but I summarized the parts that to me demonstrate the fundamental way. Most of us see clothing. It exists for a single purpose and that's to cover our bodies. Our society looks at clothes, hair, shoes, makeup accessories collectively. What I will call fashion in a very practical and utilitarian way, folks today, I want to show you why that's wrong. I want to talk about the power of fashion and the ability it has to transform our lives, but Before we jump into all of that juicy stuff. Who is this person? That'S gon na stand here for the next 20 minutes and tell you all that you dress really badly well in case you've already forgotten. My name is Maria, I'm a student, a researcher and author, a bunch of other cool stuff. I think for a 20 year old. I have a pretty good resume, I'm happy with our man, but trust me when I say that that resume just used to be a blank page. I want to take you back in time to about three years ago, and I asked you to imagine scared, 17-year old high school student who's about to embark on a journey at Canada's number one post-secondary educational institution. She was also about to live on residence, so she was kissing goodbye to her mum's, home-cooked meals and her dad killing any insects in the house. She was basically looking down a really dark tunnel and all she could see was hours spent at the library microwaved. Bowls of old pasta and cowering in fear because the spiders had colonized her bedroom. I was that 17 year old and you thought I looked bad now right surprise, but in the middle of all of this change I had to simplify at least one aspect of my life. So I picked my wardrobe. I came up with a personal, uniform of sweatshirts and skinny jeans. I could eaten them sleep in them and study in them, which are the only things that really matter to a student right at this point, in my life, all I was thinking about was productivity. I had come into university with all these dreams and goals that I was trying to achieve. So all my energy went towards that this focus on productivity is such a strong message in our culture, and fashion is just one of the ways that it's reinforced. Some of our most idolized and iconic figures are famous for the fact that they have uniforms take Mark Zuckerberg, for example, he wears the exact same gray t-shirt every day. Now, when he was asked about that in an interview he said - and I quote, I feel like I'm not doing my job if I spent any of my energy on things that are silly or frivolous about my life. So that way, I can dedicate all of my energy towards just building the best products and services. Alright, so his wardrobe suffered so that you and I could have a platform to share cat videos on and he's not the only one right, Steve Jobs also comes to mind black turtleneck, dad jeans, white sneakers. I mean people are iconic, they're, so respected in our society, and this was their opinion on the clothes we put on our backs. Naturally, I felt the same way. I had a budding interest in fashion, but I thought at the very least I had to wait till I've achieved something really significant with my life before spending time on things like that, you know. Maybe once I'd created the next big tech company pineapple or space book, then I could start devoting time to my outfits. Unfortunately, I was nowhere near starting the next pineapple. I was in my first year at university and when you're at university, you realize that you're, a guppy in a shark tank, everyone sitting in these lecture halls, has actually already started their own tech company or invented a water purifier that cost five cents or interned at Nasa when they were three years old, I hadn't done anything remotely close to that impressive. I mean I'd been on my high school's lacrosse team for a week, but one day the ball came flying towards my face nearly broke, my nose, so I dropped out. I, like my nose, suddenly I'm sitting there and I'm questioning everything myself my abilities, my goals, my ambitions, I'm really wondering will I ever achieve those big dreams. I had I'm sure most of the students in this room today completely understand where I'm coming from the modern undergraduate is expected to have everything. Grades, work, experience, volunteering, extracurriculars clubs and a fantastic social life. I am not the only one who was wearing myself out trying to have it all we're expected to be extremely productive, and yet we're also expected to be extremely happy, and you know what folks that makes complete sense this day and age is statistically speaking. The best time ever to be alive, we have longer lifespans the mortality rates, easy access to food, shelter, education. We should all be so incredibly grateful for the gift of being alive in the 21st century, but there's a catch right. All those perks of the modern age are pretty much offset by that constant pressure to be productive. What good is a longer lifespan when you're spending most of that time working we tend to forget that being happy requires work. Now I was so stressed trying to be this productive student that I decided enough is enough. I need to shift some of this work towards being happy and how did I do that? Well, I looked at that budding interest that I had in fashion and I decided to nurture it. I went into my closet and I dug out all those clothes that I was saving for special occasions and I just started wearing them to lectures or to work. I stopped spending all my money on skinny jeans and hoodies, and I said Maria try something interesting something different. It got to the point where I was having so much fun dressing up that many Monday mornings, when the last thing I wanted to do was crawl out of bed for eight am calculus. I forced myself to. I had a duty to show the good people of Toronto, the fantastic outfit I had planned for the day now, every night I'd stand in front of my wardrobe deciding what to wear and I'd. Ask myself. Would I be happy if a future employer or a future boyfriend saw me in this outfit and not at the same time, folks, one or the other? I'M not that kind of person you don't have to worry, but that idea that sentiment it's based in something we all intimately know. We all know that the way you dress influences how other people perceive you. It'S the reason why your mum's ironing that white shirt before your first proper job interview a wire up at midnight, texting your friends, 15 different outfit options before your first date with that smoking, hottie from the library we're trying to project confidence, skill weight intelligence. All these wonderful and amazing aspects of our personality - all I did - was adopt that into my daily life. Why should I just project these amazing things at job interviews and first dates? Why not project it every single day? What do I have to lose, but there's something we rarely ever focus on and that's how the clothes influence how we see ourselves. I noticed something that was happening around the same time as this newfound passion for fashion. I was walking with a bit more bounce. In my step, I was more confident going outside of my comfort zone. I felt like the imposter syndrome that had gripped me since my very first day at university was decreasing little by little. The thing I attributed this change to was my newfound interest in fashion. I noticed that taking a few minutes to craft a good outfit made me feel prepared to take on the day and any problems that would help have. I felt, like my clothes were helping me be my best self now. The last thing I want to do is assume that a correlation equals causation and folks right now, I'm just a girl standing in front of the crowd asking it to believe me based on a personal anecdote, so I went out to try and find a study that Would support everything that I was thinking and guess what I did find a study now this paper was published in 2012 by dr


Adam and dr. Gilinsky in the Journal of experimental social psychology. One day, these professors see a white lab coat and they think hmm white lab coats are typically worn by doctors and scientists and generally people who are very careful and pay a lot of attention to detail. So they conducted a study and they confirmed that. Yes, the majority of the population associates white lab coats with traits like carefulness and attention. This finding led them to wonder, would wearing a lab coat, make a person take on those trait for themselves. So would it lead to increased attentional abilities to test this idea? They got a bunch of undergraduate students and they divided them up into three groups. Group one was given a white lab coat to wear and they were told that it's a painter's coat group two was given the exact same white lab coat to wear, but they're told it's a doctor's coat and group three they're. Also, given the exact same white lab coat, they're also told it's a doctor's coat, but they weren't allowed to put it on it simply lay on a table next to them. Next, all three groups were given two images that were identical, except for some tiny differences. Now, when they were asked to write down those differences group, two wearing the lab coat, they believed was a doctor's found the most reflecting better attention. They also found that, when people are wearing a doctor's lab coat, they make half the number of mistakes in an attention task compared to people not wearing a lab coat at all. So the crucial finding of the study is that the effect of a lab coat depends on two factors. First, it depends on what the coat symbolizes Group, one, who is wearing a painter's coat, didn't show any changes, presumably because we don't associate painting with traits like carefulness and attention and second, you have to physically wear the lab coat to see any improvement group three that Saw a doctors lab coat, but didn't actually put it on, showed no change. The name for this effect is the theory of enclosed cognition, which describes the effects that clothes have on the wearer's psychological processes. They had found that when people were a lab coat associated with the traits of carefulness and attention to detail, they showed increased attentional abilities themselves. What a thought-provoking study right pretty interesting, but the question is: how relevant is that to you and me, the last time a student walked around every day in a lab coat. He was pretending to be a doctor and he ended up in jail. You should google it. It was a really weird story, but what the study got me thinking was. We all have our own personal lab codes. We all have things that when we put them on, we feel invincible now, maybe it's a color that makes you feel like you stand out from the crowd. Perhaps it's a style of clothing that makes you feel really professional and put together. You could even be inspired by how your idols dress whatever it is. We all have our own personal lab codes that we associate with important traits and they have the potential to help us feel like our best selves. Now, when I looked at my experience from this perspective, I could immediately understand why I was feeling the way I was and I could see my personal lab codes, so I'd like to share them with you today, lab code number one crazy trousers, I'm talking cuts colors Flair'S prints anything and everything I'm wearing them today. I love them now. This might surprise some of you, but I am a serious introvert. I'M the definition of an introvert and trust me when I say that's not really very helpful when you're a measly student trying to get their grubby little hands on any job opportunity that they can get crazy. Trousers are the opposite of introvert they're, loud they're, flashy, they're, confident I had to be bold when I wore them and that boldness helped me seize a lot of opportunities that otherwise might have just passed me by lab coat. Number two are my round glasses. For some reason round, glasses are really common in academia. I feel like we've all had that professor, that came in the first day of the semester round glasses turtleneck suit papers under their arm, and you just knew wow. This person is really smart. Well, that happened to me because eventually I began to associate these glasses with everything I wanted to one day this wise intellectual scholar, who's he go to in their field. Think Dumbledore. Now I stumbled across these one day I decided to try them on and the moment. I did folks I felt smart. I felt intellectual. I was channeling all these traits that I admired greatly. My final personal lab coat thick eyebrows. Now thick eyebrows have become really trendy recently, but to me they're a symbol of my heritage. Women from my racial background, always had lots of hair and bushy eyebrows, but even before it was cool. So I like to wear my brows, bold and unruly wild and untamed because those are all traits. I think a woman of color needs to thrive in our society and there you have it. Those are my personal lab coats now to some of you, the crazy trousers are just that crazy and to others. The round glasses were less Dumbledore and more Harry Potter, but guess what none of that matters what's important is that these items have significance to me. They embody traits that I value and when I put them on, I feel myself taking on those traits now it might have started out as superficial, but that change became deep and meaningful. No longer am i that timid, 17-year old, who was afraid of trying hard and failing. I became confident and fearless well on my way to achieving those big dreams. A journey to find happiness, ironically, ended up fueling my productivity and driving me towards success. That was really motivational right, really inspirational. I bet each and every one of you wants to run out now and find your own personal lab coats and if you don't, may I ask what's wrong with you: I've just stood here and told you how amazing they are, but finding a personal lab coat. Isn'T always going to be easy, you might need to do some trial and error. The thing about trial and error is that might require money and that's not something a lot of undergraduate students really have. So the conclusion to my talk today is that if you don't have money, I'm afraid you can't have a personal lab coat. I'M kidding, you obviously got that, of course, it's still possible and to prove it. I set myself a challenge. I did a bit more research and I found out that the average Canadian whoops the average Canadian spends I've given away my challenge. The average Canadian spends three thousand three hundred and seventy four dollars a year on clothing, which translates to nine dollars a day. Now my challenge was to create a complete head-to-toe outfit based on one week's worth of that budget, so to do the math, that's 63 Canadian dollars now this is the outfit that I came up with on that budget. It'S a simple dress, but with this wild jacket and flame printed boots, it's pretty amazing right, but I'm sure most of you are thinking what I thought: 63 dollars for one outfit. Folks, that's the cost of 12 Big Macs. So I went ahead and made 12 more outfits with the three things I bought, but using clothes I already owned now, the first six. These are the simple ones they made with things we already own, like white t-shirts, black jeans denim the second set. These are the flamboyant ones. You can see the crazy trousers round glasses, a bunch of other funky stuff and these twelve that's just the tip of the iceberg. There are tons more outfits. I could have put up that today, even just by mixing and matching. What'S on the screen, the point is you don't have to go broke to have a personal lab coat, you don't even have to buy anything. The value in a personal lab coat is the meaning behind the clothing. It'S not what you wear, but why you wear it? Each and every one of us can dress with purpose dress with meaning dress with intention. Folks, I'm standing here, I'm looking out and I see a really amazing group of people I, the next inventor of Facebook. I see the next author of the Harry Potter series. I even see the person that's going to invent a burger that tastes better than the Big Mac, but now that I'm standing here thinking about that, I don't think it's gon na be too hard to do. What I see is an incredible group of people and you will achieve incredible things, but standing in your way is your own doubt. You will often feel like you cannot do it. You will need every single tool you can get to help you achieve your goals. Why is fashion not one of them there's a really common idea that dressing well is just for special occasions, but to that all I can say is that life is an occasion and every day can be meaningful if you just dress like it. I want to thank you for listening to me today and if I bored your pants off, please feel free to try on some new ones, preferably flared and bright, yellow. Thank you very much.

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