The Culture Of Clothing And “I” Image Among Adolescents


The article focuses on the psychological analysis of teenage self-presentation in society, which occurs, often through clothing. A person as a subject and bearer of culture, a member of society, theoretically, expresses his or her character, worldview, psychological stereotypes through appearance. This personalized attitude to clothing, its design, structural components, colors, and other elements of appearance is particularly evident during adolescence. In this period, the purpose of clothes begins to be realized in a hypertrophied manner, as there are significant changes in physiological, psychological, external physical appearance, largely affecting self-awareness, self-esteem. Clothing is an essential part of the «I» image perception of oneself and the impression that the teenager produces on other people ("Clothes make the man..."). Clothing as a cultural and historical phenomenon performs different functions, plays a positive and negative role in human life. The authors present a kind of historical reconstruction of the teenage clothing design in the time period from the second half of the XX century to the present day. Such a reconstruction in the article carries a meaning. The article substantiates the stipulation that it is possible to have a targeted effect on the creation of a positive self-image of adolescents. Creating a clothing culture is proposed to begin at technology lessons, as well as in the system of further education and self-education. The authors of the article prove their reflections by the results of empirical studies, which are graphically presented in tables.

Keywords: Adolescenceclothing culture“I” imageillusions of perceptionyouth fashion


Man as a subject and bearer of culture is characterized by the diversity of his life manifestations, one of which is the manufacture and wearing of clothes. Purpose of clothing begins to be realized at a fairly early age, but it becomes especially relevant in adolescence, when there are significant changes, both physiological, psychological, and in the physical appearance, largely influencing self-awareness, self-esteem and, in general, the «I» image of a teenager. Worries about appearance is quite common phenomenon at this age. A positive perception by a teenager of his or her appearance determines his or her cheerfulness, sociability, in the case of negative self-esteem there might be anxiety, depression, aggression. Clothing plays an important role here. Clothing, as it is known, allows you to mask body irregularities, visually adjust the features of the physique and thereby influence the perception of others and self-esteem. At the time, Zimmel (1996) pointed out that fashion and clothing are a true arena "for individuals who are not internally independent, need to be supported, but at the same time they feel the need for distinction, attention, a special position."

Problem Statement

It can be assumed that clothing for adolescents is an opportunity to show their individuality, to feel good about themselves and others, to create a positive self-image, both in their own eyes and in the eyes of others. In this regard, the study of the attitude of adolescents and young people to clothes and the influence of clothes on their «I» imageis of scientific and practical interest, one of the central manifestations of which is self-attitude.

According to Hoffmann (2000), clothing, along with hairstyle, shoes, make-up, etc. is a part of individual human form, appears as a means of visual communication, transmitting certain information about a person even more accurately and expressively than verbal speech. This fact is especially relevant for young people. According to Dobrosmyslova (2000), youth clothing promotes "social and cultural self-identification of young people", while other forms of clothing are in crisis. This function of clothing dates back to the traditions, rites and rituals of the primitive community, which allows using clothes to denote belonging to a particular ethnic group or tribe. In the view of Dobrosmyslova (2000), such archaic symbols include, for example, tattoos, various baubles and talismans, and piercings. “Black leather jackets, greasy jeans, heavy motorcycle boots and insignia of biker groups” identify their wearers in the same way as drawings on the body, feather jewelry in some African or Indian tribe.

Research Questions

  • To explore a person as a subject and bearer of culture, where the manufacture and wearing of clothes is a characteristic of the diversity of their life manifestations.

  • To clarify the connection between the formation of the «I» image in adolescents and the design of wearable clothing.

  • Conduct empirical studies illustrating the prospects of forming a positive «I» image through the formation of a clothing culture (Clothing culture, 2018).

Purpose of the Study

The purpose if the current study is to present a historical reconstruction of the teenage clothing design in the time period from the second half of the XX century to the present day, which carries a meaning. The article substantiates the stipulation that it is possible to have a targeted effect on the creation of a positive self-image of adolescents.

Research Methods

We conducted a psychological and pedagogical experiment, the purpose of which was to study the influence of clothing culture on the «I» image of adolescents.

The empirical base of the study was Lyceum No. 123 of the Demskii District of Ufa. The study involved 223 subjects, students of 6-7 grades, 96 people of which (boys - 37, girls - 59) were participants in the experimental group, 127 people (boys - 46, girls - 81) were participants in the control group. The experts were a technology teacher, classroom teachers and classmates of schoolchildren.

Meanwhile at the ascertaining and control stages of the experiment, the state of formation of the clothing culture components was diagnosed (the authoring methodology of expert evaluation was used), as well as self-attitude indicators (the self-attitude questionnaire was used, authors are Stolin and Pantileev (1988), on the basis of which experimental and control groups were formed, their similarity in relation to the studied parameters is shown.

The authoring methodology of expert evaluation of the clothing culture formation has previously stand the appropriate psychometric test and included 12 judgments with the proposed response options. In particular, these were the following judgments.

Cognitive component. “He (she): A) puts on anything, without paying special attention to the selection of clothes; B) pays special attention to the selection of clothes and its elements; C) It's hard to say.

Creative component. “His (her) clothing: A) is original, with unusual elements; B) does not differ, has standard sewing; C) It's hard to say."

Communicative component. “His (her) clothes: A) often does not correspond to the situation of communication: place, time, can cause disapproval of others; B) usually corresponds to the situation of communication, place, time; C) It's hard to say."

The experts were: technology teacher, classroom teacher, classmate. The arithmetic average score of experts for the selected answers was taken into account.


As examples of youth subcultures that have developed their own clothing style, the researchers provide the following.

“Teddy-Boys” (1950s) is the first youth subculture which developed its own clothing style. Having the opportunity to earn decent money, but not having access to white-collar job due to lack of education, young people imitated a “noble” manner in clothes. The appearance of the teddy-boy suggested narrow “pipestem trousers”, a frock coat with a double collar, a bow tie, unusual hairstyles.

The next direction in the development of youth culture were "English fashion" (1950-1960-ies.), which put forward a pleasant pastime in the first place. These were young people, very well-dressed in Italian costumes, traveling on motor scooters. They had neat hairstyles, narrow collars on their shirts, tie-laces, normalized width of trousers. Later, the opponents of the mods were rockers (or bikers) and skinheads adhering to the cult of masculinity. Shaved heads, rough boots, suspenders, which are characteristic of the latter, caused fear and hostility among others.

Hipsters and hippies dressed completely differently. Hipster clothes are sunglasses, leather sandals, jeans, berets, black sweaters with a high collar, often a small beard; girls have loose blouses, wide trousers, sandals, straight flowing hair. All this in a specific way symbolized the "fencing" from the outside world, their own view of it. The black color of the clothes reflected an interest in ancient magical rituals.

Hippie clothes (preaching pansexuality, same-sex love, collective sexual pleasure) suggested: long hair (as a symbol of storing personal energy), homemade accessories - baubles (bracelets, amulets, medallions - as an encoded sign system, understood only by initiates), symbolism of wanderings, vagrancy (backpacks, headbands), madness (pallor, tired appearance, exhaustion), childhood (beads, embroideries, patch on clothes) - as a protest to entering the adult world.

In the early 1970s, a “bohemian” subculture of working youth appeared - a subculture of punks whose appearance expressed the feelings of those who had no work, prospects, and did not believe in the future. An indispensable part of the image of the punk was an old school uniform, pins, toilet chains, Iroquois hairstyles, dyed and trimmed hair in unexpected parts of the head, some punks preferred to wear leather belts, chains, narrow leather ties around the neck, symbolizing a noose around the neck.

Punks actually completed the linear history of youth culture, after which the parallel coexistence of many subcultures began, such as: new romantics (a glamorous spin of punk culture), goths (fans of dark music), rappers (fans of rap music), ravers (fans of electronic music). Today, another trend is noticeable: youth subcultures are formed on the basis of a particular sport (skateboarders, scooters, surfers) with their own clothing styles.

Thus, clothing was originally an element of culture, acting as a product designed not only to protect itself from negative environmental factors. It is a well known fact, culture, specifies the script of “what to do” and how to participate the cultural community and specific social contexts (Shweder et al., 2006). Thanks to the youth subculture, boys and girls get the opportunity to express their individuality on the one hand and, on the other, to feel involved in a particular youth community. Clothing in this case acts as their business card, forms a visual appearance.

At the same time, clothes began to perform many other functions, becoming, on the one hand, an element of art that has no limitations in its embodiment and, on the other hand, in its everyday use, forced to obey certain objective factors. They caused the appearance of, for example, shoulder and waist clothing (depending on the body-supporting surfaces), seasonal clothing (summer, winter, demi-season), clothing by age and sex (men, women, children). In turn, children's clothing is divided into clothing for newborns, nursery children, for preschoolers, primary and high school students, for adolescents and youth (Clothing, 2018).

In recent decades, the term “clothing culture” has become widely used in various articles, mainly in the names of “Clothing Culture” articles (Clothing culture, 2018). Our analysis showed that almost all such materials are ethics articles containing knowledge-norms on how to dress in different situations in order to comply with the rules of etiquette.

In our opinion, the culture of clothing is not only the conformity of clothing to the rules of etiquette, it is an understanding of the psychological principles of designing clothing, its compliance with the laws of visual perception, physique, mood, character, gender, age, and the sociocultural situation in which the subject finds himself.

It is known, for example, that the gender aspect in clothing was the trigger in fashion history. In particular, when it appeared, the costume was originally focused on gender hiding (erogenous zones), but over time it was reoriented to the opposite - the demonstration of gender. In a suit, it is easy to build the interaction of “masculinity” - “femininity”, as well as create the image of an ideal woman or ideal man (Clothing, 2018).

In order for clothing to decorate a person, its design and selection must be carried out based on the type of physique. The use of illusions of perception in clothing presented in the fabric and cut clothing patterns is particularly significant to emphasize the merits and body adjustment.

In particular, the following visual illusions and their manifestations in clothes are known (Berdnik & Neklyudova, 2000; Berdnik, 2005) - the illusion of an overestimation of vertical lines (according to which a vertical line on clothes makes the shape visually slimmer);

– illusion of an acute angle / illusion of reevaluation of an obtuse angle (a V-shaped neckline will make shoulders visually wider and waist narrower);

– illusion of space filling (if you want to visually enlarge your chest or hips, you need to use clothes with a print);

– light shades make you look fat, and dark make you look slim;

– contrast illusion (a thin neck framed by a wide neckline on the dress will look even thinner; a strongly tightened waist with wide hips - will visually increase the hips even more);

– illusion of assimilation, according to which the identical thing repeats the identical thing (a square neckline will draw attention to the square chin, a narrow neckline - visually narrow the face even more);

– illusion of a closed and open loop (a turtleneck under the throat visually shortens not only the neck, but also reduces growth; and vice versa, the larger the neckline, the longer the neck will seem and the silhouette will be more elongated);

– illusion of psychological distraction (if you need to hide something in the body, you need to draw attention to its other part, with the help of clothes, accessories, decor; or to emphasize the dignity of the shape, distracting attention from the part that you want to leave unnoticed).

K. Pine, professor of developmental psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, examining the cognitive, social, and emotional factors of the clothing impact, states a connection between human mood and choice of clothing. She found that women often wear jeans when they have a dismal mood, or they are depressed. Happy women in a good mood are more likely to choose dresses. With the right clothes, a person feels much less anxious and depressed. Outdated or unfashionable clothes make a person less attractive to others (as cited in Fashion and Clothing Psychology, 2018). Color combinations also have an impact on the perception of clothing. Currently, the tables of combination and combination of colors in clothes have been developed. For example, as successful combinations are called (Berdnik, 2005) the following: black with pink, orange, white, salad, yellow, red, lilac; blue with brown, gray, red, pink, orange, white, yellow; yellow with purple, light blue, black, gray, purple, blue, etc. Colors are divided: from pastel to saturated, into warm and cold. The combination of shades includes: achromatic combinations, when the main colors are gray, white and black; monochromatic combinations (a combination of different tones of the same color); complementary combinations (use of contrast); triadic combinations (the use of three colors at the same distance from each other).

Lipskaya (2012) indicates the socio-psychological and figurative characteristics of a suit, noting that a person who is interested in his or her appearance, dresses things that matches the mood, taking into account the color scheme, cut, and silhouette of a suit. We can add to this that, if there is the opportunity and desire, such person dresses according to the situation, that is, contextually: depending on the event, meeting, environment, goal.

Modern creative designers, designing clothes / suits, rely on a visualized idea of ​​the place of its wearer in his or her real being. Thus, following the opinion of Lipskaya (2012), suit appears as “the embodiment of the social and cultural value of its wearer” (p. 12). Suit appears in the form of a special kind of sign that expresses and fixes the community of views and moods, ensures that the subject acquires a certain social status, and can be associated with the social role of a person.

Thus, clothing as a cultural-historical phenomenon performs different functions, plays a positive and negative role in human life. A negative example is the wearing of clothes that are not appropriate for age (when adolescents copy adult clothes, and middle-aged and older people wear clothes for teenagers). A person can wear clothes that do not correspond to the situation, distorting his or her body proportions and thereby arouse perplexity among others. A negative impression of his or her clothes can be painfully experienced by a person, affect his or her behavior and self-image.

In this regard, there is a need for the formation of psychological culture of clothing, which we define as-conscious ownership by a subject of perception mechanisms, design and use of clothing as a means of expressing their individuality, positive self-acceptance and others.

The culture of clothing is a component of the general socio-psychological culture of an individual. As an integrative concept, “clothing culture” includes the following components.

1) Cognitive - the knowledge and perceptions of a subject about the purpose of clothing, its compliance with individual characteristics and normative socio-cultural requirements.

2) Creative - the ability of a subject to find new opportunities in the use and design of clothing, with the help of which to show his or her personality.

3) Communicative - the willingness to correlate clothes and the situation of communication, to use clothes as a means of non-verbal communication, to control the attention of others.

4) Motivational-value - the recognition by a subject of the importance of clothing for a positive self-attitude and acceptance / rejection by others.

The purposeful formation of ideas about the culture of clothing and its components is possible, in our opinion, already in adolescence, which is especially important in connection with the desire of adolescents to personal expression on the one hand and acceptance by peers on the other. In this regard, we have developed: a methodology for expert assessment to study the formation of the cognitive, creative and communicative components of clothing culture in a teenager; program for the formation of a communicative culture in adolescents.

According to the results of a stating experiment, both the control and experimental groups were dominated by low and medium levels of clothing culture formation. The total value of arithmetic average indicators of the formation of clothing culture components (cognitive, creative, communicative) of adolescents in the control sample was 12.2 points, in the experimental group - 12.1 points. The difference between the groups in terms of the level of clothing culture formation was not statistically significant: according to the Mann-Whitney criterion for disconnected samples, Uemp = 3.5, p> 0.05.

The results obtained at the ascertaining stage of the experiment made it possible to argue about the need for focused work on the formation of a clothing culture among teenagers and the feasibility of conducting a special “Clothing Culture” course.

At the formative stage, a special course “Clothing Culture” was held in the experimental group, which was designed for 40 class hours and 20 hours of extra-curricular independent work. The theoretical part of the course was aimed at introducing students to the history of youth fashion, youth subcultures, the conceptual apparatus of the phenomenon of “clothing culture” and its structural psychological components. The practical block included exercises and tasks aimed at applying the knowledge gained in the analysis of their own clothes and clothes of famous fashion designers, as well as in developing their own clothing models and selecting their own wardrobe.

Mastering the cognitive component of clothing culture included knowledge about the essence and components of clothing culture, youth fashion features, body types, controlling the perception of clothing through a variety of illusions (re-evaluation of the vertical, re-evaluation of an acute and obtuse angle, contrast, etc.), color scheme, and color harmony.

Possession of creative component of the clothing culture involves the ability to bring originality, distinctiveness to clothing, the ability to make do with even the simplest of means to ensure its diversity. It was necessary to take into account that suit was designed to demonstrate a certain audience in a predetermined location.

The communicative component in the clothing culture involves following the dress code, using clothing as means of establishing contact and maintaining communication, or vice versa, as a means of avoiding contact. Clothing is the most obvious way of identifying with other people, manifesting one’s openness towards them, and vice versa, it is a means of ignoring the opinions of others, expressing one’s alienation and rejection. In connection with this, adolescents got acquainted with various styles of clothing, its gender characteristics, the conformity of clothing with place, time, and situation. On the basis of the knowledge gained, teenagers analyzed their own wardrobe, as well as the clothes of people represented in the photo in the media.

The reliability of the assumption about the increase after the forming experiment in adolescents of the formation level of the clothing culture components and its impact on self-attitude -as a central component of the «I» image checked after 4 months with the help of the Student's t-test. Table 01 presents the average values (scores) of the formation of the clothing culture components of adolescents n the control and experimental groups at different stages of the forming experiment and the empirical values of the Student’s t-test.

Table 1 -
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Statistical analysis of the data showed that in the experimental group, for all indicators of clothing culture of adolescents, there were statistically significant changes towards increasing the level of clothing culture (p <0.01). In the control group, statistically significant changes in the indicators obtained at the ascertaining and control stages were revealed only by the communicative component (p <0.05).

The psychological and pedagogical experiment also showed that the formation of a clothing culture contributed to the establishment of a positive “Image- of I” of adolescents, which was reflected in the increase and normalization of self-esteem, self-interest, expectation of a positive attitude from others, self-confidence, self-understanding.

Self-attitude indicators of adolescents of the experimental group before and after the special “Clothing Culture” course are presented in Table 02 , which shows that adolescents of the experimental group at the control phase significantly increased and approached the norm of the level of global self-attitude ( t E m p = 59; p˂0.01), self-esteem ( t E m p = 17.9; p˂0.01), self-interest ( t E m p = 31.3; p˂0.01), expectation of a positive attitude from others ( t E m p = 37.5; p˂ 0.01) self-confidence

Table 2 -
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( t E m p = 14.7; p ˂ 0.01), self-acceptance ( t E m p = 17.8; p ˂ 0.01), self-consistency ( t E m p = 2.22; p ˂ 0.05) and self-understanding ( t E m p = 14, 2; p ˂ 0.01). That is, adolescents of the experimental group began to perceive themselves more positively, better aware of their merits, focus on their feelings and desires, expect a positive assessment of others; they also increased confidence in their abilities, decreased self-criticism, they became more consistent in their actions and better understand themselves. Adolescents of the control group have no differences in self-attitude and its indicators after the formative experiment. Thus, we can say that the formation of a clothing culture in adolescents indirectly influenced positively on their self-attitude.


A person’s attitude to his or her clothes is, in fact, a cultural-historical phenomenon that is formed under the influence of actions and opinions of others, especially parents, who initially choose clothes for their child on their own. Gradually, in the process of comparing clothing with clothes of other people, as well as focusing on one's inner needs, adolescents and young people have their own preferences in clothing, which are realized with the advent of opportunity to purchase it at their own expense, embodying the distinctive features of various youth subcultures.

Clothing is an essential part of the «I» image perceiving oneself and the impression it “makes on other people (“Clothes make the man ... ”), which becomes especially relevant in adolescence, when physical appearance is significantly change, which greatly influence on self-consciousness, self-esteem and «I» image of an adolescent. In this regard, the culture of adolescent clothes becomes important, the purposeful formation of which can be started in technology lessons, as well as in the system of additional education and self-education.

Initially, somewhat underestimated indicators of self-attitude which is typical for adolescents, after conducting classes with them on the formation of psychological components of clothing culture and their implementation in their behavior led to the normalization of self-esteem, self-interest, expectation of a positive attitude of others, self-acceptance, self-consistency, self-understanding.

Formation of psychological components of clothing culture allow a person to have a positive Image of I, to attract, or vice versa, not to draw the attention of others, arouse trust and a positive attitude, and even get dressed at an affordable price.

Clothing is not only an integral part of the look of a particular person, it creates the look and image of the country where he or she lives. It is noteworthy that this aspect is increasingly recognized by people and contributes to the development of the fashion industry, but for this purpose it is necessary to form a clothing culture among the broad masses of the population.


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Dubovitskaya, T., Oskolkov, I., Lukyanova, R., & Ivanova, O. (2020). The Culture Of Clothing And “I” Image Among Adolescents. In I. Murzina (Ed.), Humanistic Practice in Education in a Postmodern Age, vol 93. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 422-431). European Publisher.