Tuesday, November 25, 2008

An Eye for Color

In the classic book New Women's Dress for Success by John T. Molloy, there is a wonderful story that illustrates the importance of fabric choice and color in dressing well.

Molloy tells of an experiment where two women are given red jackets to wear that are seemingly identical in every way except that one is from a discount house, and the other from an upscale store. The difference seems so minimal that the participants believe the experiment will be a waste of time. The ladies are then sent around with their resumes to meet with twenty-five recruiters. The result: the lady with the expensive jacket received strikingly more call-backs and job offers that the lady with the inexpensive jacket.

Molloy goes on to explain that there is actually a discernable difference in color between cheap fabrics and expensive fabrics, but you have to train your eye to see it. He calls these colors "stylish upper middle-class" and "lower middle-class" or "blue-collar." Those who are not very familiar with expensive fabrics tend not to see any difference at all, but those with plentiful exposure have no problem at all seeing a difference.

Molloy offers a tip which he calls "cross-shopping" to remedy this situation. He suggests:
Work on one color per day. First, visit the best store in town and look at their medium blue coats, suits, blouses, scarves, and so on. Then visit an inexpensive store and look at the same garments. The differences in the shades of color should be obvious. Next time, repeat the exercise with another color. After about thirty visits, most of the women who have tried this method had no problems picking colors.

Although time intensive, this is a really good way to improve your ability to recognize a quality garment when you see one.

See you next time...same blog time...same blog channel....

(For more information on wardrobe planning, or to sign up for my free e-zine, please visit my wardrobe planning website.)


Lisa M. McLellan said...

I have noticed that! I will see sweaters, bathing suits, jackets etc. in more expensive stores and love the color but not buy because of price. Then I look for similar pieces in the less expensive store and notice that the colors are not quite the same or as attractive in my opinion. Interesting post - love it.

S Chambers said...

that is just wonderful advice. I love research projects like that. That is news all of us can use.

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Michael said...

I am not sure that I could tell where an item of clothing was purchased. ie upscale or not. intersting post,thank you

Scott Bel said...

Interesting. I think most of us pick this up on a subconscious level, but I never connected the dots. Thanks for the great fashion information.

Scott A Bell

The Road Warrior

RobFromGa said...

Quality is often apparent, but hard to put a finger on exactly what it is...

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Matthew Shields said...

Hi , Jenn
I’ve always been able to tell the difference between an expensive piece and one that isn’t. I guess it’s just a matter of how much you feel like that matters to you.
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Lena Milukh said...

I relate to Lisa's words. Sometimes you can't afford a thing from expensive store, but see pretty much similar and much cheaper in another and once you see it, you are dissapointed because it just not the same.
I haven't practice though, but might try whenever possible.
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just asking said...

Is it possible that the lady with the expensive jacket also interviewed better? Or was this experiment controlled? Just asking.

JohnWShoemaker said...

In my experience it's not "just the color" The real fashion designers will create their own version of "red" to use.

And it's the fabric and textures. I buy the nice stuff because it is distinctive, it fits me better and it feels better on me!

Intuitive John

Cindy Eyanson said...

I say you get what you pay for...

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David J Parnell said...

Very frugal advice. Good job... Not everyone has the republican party to pay for their wardrobe... pennies sometimes need to be pinched.

David J. Parnell | Communication Expert
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Mary said...

Great post Jennifer! Thanks so much!

Darryl Pace said...

Very, very, very interesting. I've never paid much attention to the quality of another person's clothes, except when it is readily apparent that the quality is exceptional (either bad or good).

Darryl Pace

Jennifer Skinner said...

Just Asking-
Excellent question! I totally forgot to mention that the two women did indeed swap jackets for round two. This eliminated any personality or skill bias. Interesting experiment, isn't it?