I got jiggy at Burning Man in disco pants something crazy happened. And science backs it up.
Disclaimer: I make clothes, and my psychedelic activewear line for music festivals launched on Kickstarter last week.
Nick dressed some days like an art school graduate with hand-me-downs from older art school graduates, and on others, like a Canadian lumberjack rummaging through a Nantucket thrift store. He wasn’t fashionable or trendy, but he dressed like Nick. I wore a light blue Ralph Lauren Oxford over beige chinos and Sperry’s when I first met him. I kind of hated myself at the time.
What we wear changes who we are. Maybe you don’t think the fashion industry should glamorize underweight models with oversaturated Instagram pictures, and I agree. I don’t advocate trendy dressing or unrealistic lifestyle portrayals. But I dare you to wear something that both scares and excites you.
In a study, students wearing a Superman T-shirt rated themselves higher in physical strength, attractiveness, and confidence compared to a control group. In another study, wearing a swimsuit while taking a math test made women do worse. And when a group of subjects wore a white doctor’s coat, they did better on a mental agility test. Our clothes cue us to how we should behave.
Six months after meeting Nick, I saw an 80s neon pink ski jacket at a thrift store. I could see wavy synth beats radiating off of it. I had been spending a lot of time at music festivals, wearing wildly bright patterns and grooving to nu-disco late into the night. I felt unrestrained there. The festival community encouraged the total expression of your inner aesthetic, and my repressed neon fantasies found an outlet. But this pink jacket would be worn on the streets of New York, a territory ruled by hordes of advertising executives humble-bragging about wearing only black.
The jacket survived Burning Man.“Nick, should I wear this? People might think I’m weird.” He took a quick look.
“Fuck what people think,” he said and shuffled away.
So I wore it. I walked quickly and looked at my feet, afraid of the judging eyes around me. And then it took, like, an hour to realize there was nothing to be nervous about. Nobody cared. And every time I looked down, the bright pink jacket would reassure me, giving me a visual reminder of my choice, my aesthetic, and my inner self.
Every day, every single person in this world curates their own fashion aesthetic. Instead of curating a costume to blend in, I began wearing costumes that showed my true self — neon fantasies and all. Six months later, as I rode the elevator to work in my Hawaiian shirt and Aztec print sweats, I wondered if I had gone too far. No, the limit did not yet exist, and I left my job to start a psychedelic activewear line for music festivals.
During this fashion shift, I learned how to meditate, I took my first yoga class, and I started reading books again. Correlation isn’t causation, and I don’t believe wearing a leopard print three days in a row will solve your life’s problems. But making deliberate choices about what we wear is one way to explore our inner selves and desires.
Maybe you’re not satisfied with how you spend your time, but you’re also not sure what new things to pursue. Leaving your job, moving cities, or even starting a new hobby might seem too daunting. Wearing the shirt that you love, but are a little nervous of wearing, is a small change you can stomach, and might dare you to explore something else in your life. Changing your shirt could trigger a chain of events that cascade to a major leap into yourself.
If you like my words, please click the heart to recommend my story, and check out my Kickstarter for art shorts. The comfort of running shorts and the utility of cargo shorts, combined with the aesthetic beauty from visionary artists around the world.
When to Jump™ is a community dedicated to exploring the fundamental question we all think about: when is the right time to go do what you really want to be doing?