Have you ever felt that dressing a certain way made you feel like a different person? Suddenly, your strutting your stuff a la 70s Jane Birkin or 90s Kate Moss, portraying characteristics that only your outfit brought on? This is what many call the Placebo Effect in fashion. Fashion has the ability to make you believe that you are someone else through a heady formula of dressup and cultural display. But is believing in the dress up or appropriating a character a concern?

Let’s test the theory:

Honing the Placebo Effect in Fashion Design

We thank the brilliant mind of the South African designer Ricci Janse van Rensburg who has introduced more than simple trend items, but instead uses her inner nomadic voice as a creative muse. Suppose you see a woman wearing the latest Origami Crop Jacket by Ricci JVR, what’s the first thought that comes to mind? Bold. A fierce woman that lives to deconstruct the ‘normal’ mindset. Buying an item does not state where a person stands, she may be fierce, or be the most gentle human being wearing a heavily structured jacket. Ricci’s beautifully constructed clothing may push in the presence of  a lioness, but, in reality, the person who lives under the clothing can have a dove-like personality.

Shown below is another remarkable piece by Ricci, Swan Love Fringe Jacket, simply looking at this photo takes you to another world, same character, but different setting. How would you feel wearing this jacket versus a standard little black dress? One is a statement piece and the other is universal. Both speak in their own one, but one evokes hidden emotions that you may not realize  until your outer skin is revealed.

Honing the Placebo Effect in Fashion Design

Fashion has a certain power, the Placebo Effect is one of the many ways that justifies buying that one signature item you strongly crave, since a bold item can alter the way you think about or  perceive yourself. In this case, the clothing is the drug, as the jacket is only a material good.  You haven’t changed, but, in the course of wearing that new or exciting piece you feel that psychological change in perception.

Having an altered perception may be fine when it comes down to fashion design (just remember your ethics first and always!). Think about whether you are dressing like who you are or a community you hope to be accepted in (this year’s Met Gala was a great example of this discussion). Clothing may only be fabric on skin, but it holds real faux power over the human brain. It can allow you to showcase a hidden character or emotion unbeknownst to you or those around you. As Oscar de la Renta said, “Fashion is trend. Style lives within a person.” Let your true self be identified by the clothing you put on and let Nineteenth Amendment show you how.

(This post was taken from an essay originally written by our wonderful fashion intern, Crystal Bahena).


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