Signifiers Tell us What is Expected as Well as What to Expect…Sometimes

July 29, 2013 at 8:50 pm (Excellence in Business, Style, The decline of Civilization) (, , , , , , , , , , )

A few years ago I dated an artist who had a well paying day job and yet he dressed in rags when not in work uniform. Although a very handsome man, when my younger daughter saw his photo (in rags) she teasingly ask if I had taken to dating the homeless.

I have been having an ongoing discourse amongst my colleagues, friends and fashionistas regarding the purpose and meaning of signifiers in dress. We have covered such topics as watches, fabrics, skirt lengths and more and have even had additional revelations regarding skirt or slacks in the business environment.

Last evening while watching the popular british series Downton Abbey Maggie Smith’s character the Dowager Countess of Grantham is shocked at seeing two of the gentlemen at an evening dinner wearing black ties. She looks as though she may pale and faint at this social faux pas and remarks ” are we having a barbeque”? as though they were dressed so far from the occassion she was madly confused. Her comment made me giggle and giggle until I was laughing so hard I was nearly apoplectic!

Dowager Countess

To many this attention to detail of dress with the British aristocracy is nothing short of pointless…or is it? haven’t we always been taught to make a good first impression? Dress for success and are given social cues when invited to event s such as black tie or dressy casual. We all know what these terms mean or least we need to find someone who can interpret for us so we don’t show up to the formal in our barbeque casual dress.

Think about how you interpret the signifiers set before you the next time you meet someone and then what message you were sending with your choice of wardrobe and accessories. More on this topic in another blog.

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