Essay Example: Psychological and Sociological Influences on Dress

Published: 2019-05-30
Essay Example: Psychological and Sociological Influences on Dress
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Culture Anthropology Fashion
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 863 words
8 min read

Dress is known to have an influence on personal behavior and self-perception. By extent, what people wear affect how they perceive each other. As a fact, clothing styles give self-descriptions of a person since certain styles relate to specific traits in human beings. The mode of dressing is also said to have an influence on the behavior of others. It influences their level of interaction, obedience, aggression, and disclosure. Therefore, the report will analyze the psychological and sociological influences on the dress. The analysis will base on the pictures in the two museums.

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The first dress from the national museum of African art is a Nigeria Mans ensemble dress. The dress is known as Ewu-Iwu and is made up of cotton material. Royal tailors made the dress, and it was meant for a male. In 1995, people felt that there was a need to change the official court dress that was being used. Therefore, this kind of dress was proposed. The dress was perceived to be useful since it would promote the ethnic and political identity. According to National Museum of African Art, Womens Ensemble dress was also designed but differently. It entailed a blouse and a wrapper with Iwu markings. Purely indigenous dresses are becoming less common in Africa, and people are shifting to foreign dresses. For this reason, this Nigerian mans ensemble dress was designed to provide an ethnic identity in Nigeria. In addition, the dress illustrates the cultural authentication of the people. Even today, the dress has become common in West Africa especially to the men. More so, people of the political class wear this dress on official functions since it gives them an identity. It is a dress of respect in western Africa.

The second picture is about Alonges brown leather boots. The portrait provides an insight into the practice and early history of Nigerian photography. Between 1930 and 1940, was the first time the Nigerians encountered photography studios. Therefore, they presented themselves for photography the way they wished. During this period, photography was unaffordable for many. Those who could afford it came in different styles with latest fashions to take photos. This portrait is a sample of the photos taken during this period. The leather boots were said to belong to Chief Alonge. From their design, they are long enough to cover the leg for protection purposes. Likewise, they are made of leather material for durability. Leather is known to withstand harsh conditions. Therefore, the leather boots were merely for protective purposes for the chief.

The first picture from Arthur Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art is about a painter and a patron. In this case, it was about Whistler who moved from the United States to London to venture into art. He understood how art and money were related. He aimed at perfecting his art. While in England, he met Leyland, who was wealthy since he owned a commercial shipping line. The two met and became friends on mutual self-interest. Therefore, Whistler was the artist while Leyland was his patron. Whistler was then commissioned to do portraits of Leylands family. Therefore, Whistler produced different portraits for the Leyland family. The first portrait shows Leyland, who is whistlers patron. He is in a suit, which shows that the man is wealthy. Furthermore, the posture on the portrait portrays someone who is focused and hardworking. He represents a family that everyone who would wish to have.

The second portrait is of Leylands wife in a velvet dress. Frances Leyland was said to be a beautiful woman with nice hair. Whistler wished to paint her while in a velvet dress since the dress could match with her hair. This portrait shows how Mrs. Leyland is beautiful and how the family is financially able. Furthermore, the velvet dress depicts how Whistler is a designer, an artist and someone who has a passion for art. Later, Whistler designed a new dress to much with Mrs. Leylands red hair. He wanted to attain a good affinity between painting and the dress design. The design by Whistler on this dress combined the elements of classical art and some unique styles. For example, in the painting, he changed the color of the dress to match with the hairstyle. Furthermore, the paintings of Whistler give the evocation of mood, which is a way of communication. Nonetheless, this portrait puts Frances Leyland into a class of rich people. As said earlier, the family is wealthy, as Mr. Leyland owns a commercial shipping line. As a prestigious family in England, the portrait was aimed at making the family popular.

In summary, it is evident that dress has psychological and sociological influence in life. Dresses are worn for certain purposes or to communicate a certain message. For example, dresses are a sign of beauty or wealth as seen in Leylands portraits. Therefore, to embrace art, it is advisable that you choose a dress depending on the occasion.


Frrer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. (n.d.). Retrieved october 12, 2015, from

Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of African Art. (n.d.). Retrieved october 12, 2015, from

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