Fashion Types Based on Personality Is Makes It Easy to Use Clothes to Express Yourself

The fashion types primer, Essential Self, Essential Style: Align Your Inner Essence and Outer Expression is an introduction to how to dress and wardrobe building to express your inner self.

Alyce Parsons, the lead author, is a well-known style consultant.

Her mission, like that of Fashion After 50, is to explore how to dress so that your appearance expresses your inner self.

Kathy Hurley and Theodore Donson are experts in personality systems.

Personality Types Are Identified as Feeling, Thinking, and Doing

Fashion types are based on three personality type, the three so-called intelligences: doing/activity, feeling/emotions, intelligence/reflecting.

The Doer uses the action and thinking elements, but under uses emotions. The Doer can wind up walking all over everyone else's feelings and must develop empathy.

The Networker uses action and feeling, but does not always trust her ideas and thoughts. She must learn to develop confidence in her own good thinking.

The Introspective has well developed thinking and feeling centers, but under uses the action center.

The most useful sections of the book are checklists with suggestions for how to dress to tap into a personality dimension that you are not using.

Blend Sporty, Traditional, and Elegant Looks for Balanced Wardrobe Planning

Here's how Parsons connects fashion types with each personality dimension:

  • The Doer prefers sporty style.
  • The person who favors feeling intelligence -- the Networker -- mostly opts for traditional style.

  • A thinker tends likes elegant clothes.

By wearing the preferred style, you reinforce the positive and negative characteristics of that personality trait.

Personal Style Is More Than the Clothes You Wear

Style, according to these authors, "is a manner of expression characteristic of an individual.

"It is the way we think, act, and operate.

"It is the external expression of our internal perception and ourselves. People identify us by our style: our voice, movement, dress, and every discernable characteristic that makes us who we are" (p. 54).

You probably express your two dominant personality characteristics in your fashion style, as well as in how you talk, walk, and present yourself to the world.

What You Wear Can Motivate You to Develop Your Hidden Dimensions

Parsons, Hurley, and Donson suggests that adding the under-used style into your dress will change your overall self-presentation. This will create a greater sense of inner wholeness.

Each of the authors represents a different dominant personality type -- thinking, feeling, and acting.

They use themselves as case studies to illustrate how adding the under-used style into their fashion types has made them more whole.

As case studies, the authors' testimonials beg the questions of whether the self-fulfilling prophecy has been at work.

Worth a Try? It's Up to You

On the one hand, adding a bit of clothing fashion types so that it represents a personality trait you want to develop seems a bit like magical thinking: by performing certain rituals, circumstances will be brought into being. Or we could call it the "fake it til you make it" mentality.

On the other hand, becoming conscious of how we communicate in our manner and clothing can help us create the selves we want to be.

The Final Verdict on Essential Self, Essential Style

This slender volume of only 119 big-print pages is written in basic language appropriate for a first or second year college student.

It is an interesting approach to fashion types.

It lacks illustrations, in addition to case studies that do not prove much.

Out of print, the book is expensive to buy. I got mine through Interlibrary loan, and I suggest you do the same.

The scarcity of the item does not measure up to its worth, in this case. There are better books about fashion types, how to dress, and wardrobe building.

You can take the Fashion After 50 fashion archetype quiz to learn about your dominant and hidden styles -- and then read how each inner goddess might dress on her profile page.

For alternative style categories, see what Tim Gunn, Simon Doonan, and the youth-oriented Lucky magazine say. Scroll to bottom to see the comparison table.

More Reviews

Jackie: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.. What Would Jackie Do? is a guidebook for making style an essential element of how one lives; in her case with courage, discipline, and balance.

Vreeland, Diana. Her autobiography of her world as influential editor of Vogue coincides to some extent with Chanel's rise to fashion power.

Coco Chanel says that style is everywhere in this made-for-TV film, much like the opinions of the authors of Essential Self, Essential Style.

Pants by Laurence Behaim is a delightful coffee table book illustrating the parallels between women wearing pants and the fight for feminine rights.

Style Rx by Brigette Raes treats body type and other ways to enhance your look by choosing wisely.

Ready to Wear is a useful manual for wardrobe building.

Return to Fashion Advice for Women in Books and Media

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