Of course people use clothes to express themselves, but I wondered how much what we wear affects how we are perceived. And more importantly, do our clothes change how we see ourselves?
As an experiment, I spent a week wearing outfits inspired by the five main characters of The Breakfast Club, the 1985 film directed by John Hughes that tells the story of five very different teens who find themselves in Saturday detention together.
This film is an example of extraordinary costume design because the characters each had only one costume and each of their outfits had to represent not only their characters, but also each main teenage stereotype.
Therefore, I wondered if when I dressed like each character, would people treat me like a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess and a criminal?
I started the week dressed as John Bender, the delinquent who spends all of his Saturdays in detention. I wore boots, black jeans, a white t-shirt, a flannel, a denim vest and a lone diamond earring. I felt out of my comfort zone in this outfit, but it gave me an amazing sense of coolness and confidence. I leaned back when I sat and listened to edgier music. Although I didn’t notice others treating me differently, I felt rebellious.
On Tuesday, I wore an outfit inspired by Allison Reynolds that consisted of black sneakers, a long black skirt and a black sweater. Because this was the polar opposite of what I like to wear, I didn’t feel good about myself. This shows that when you wear what expresses you, you feel more comfortable and confident. On this day, a friend told me that I hadn’t looked like myself the past two days.
The next day I dressed as the wrestler, Andrew Clark. I wore athletic sneakers, light wash jeans, a Seton Hall Basketball shirt and a varsity style jacket. This outfit had a very obvious effect on how my peers viewed me. I’m not very athletic, but on Wednesday in gym class, my friends told me that I was awesome at playing soccer. Coincidence? I think not.
The brainy, depressive Brian Johnson inspired my outfit on Thursday. I wore sneakers, burgundy pants and my grandfather’s Essex Catholic High School sweatshirt from the 60s. Because this outfit was so close to what I would normally wear, I felt very comfortable and like myself on this day. Unfortunately, I did not feel smarter while doing my history homework.
On the last day, I dressed like Claire Standish in ballet flats, a light pink skirt, a David Bowie tee-shirt and a leather vest. When I left for school in the morning, my mother told me I looked like myself, and I felt like myself, too. A few people told me that they could tell something had been going on all week based on how I was dressed.
This week showed me that our appearance does change other’s perception of us, and it also changes the way we view ourselves. When we wear clothes that express us, we feel good about ourselves, and when we wear clothes that differ from our usual style, we feel different.
I finally know what will happen on Monday: I’ll be excited to wear my own clothes.