Sunday, January 4, 2015

Hard Wiring

    There are certain things that we are very nearly hard wired for, visually.  Certain proportional relationships, color combinations, patterns and textures are instantly recognized as being appealing and beautiful.
We needn't know a thing about classical art, textile design, or world history. We just plain get it, on a truly visceral level.  We simply understand that regularly balanced features on a human face, spaced in thirds from top to bottom and from side to side, will render an attractive result.  We don't know why, usually, it just is.
     Similarly, when we see someone on the street and their apparel speaks to us as being particularly satisfying to look at, these same principles of balance, volume, harmony, and proportion are in play.  Again, we may not be able to articulate the exact reasons why such and such an outfit on a person turns our head in a good way.  It remains though, that it does, every time.
    This goes a long way to identify why we react with such horror at avant garde designs that are deliberately messing with those very principles we feel so at peace with.  When what we perceive as the correct balance of shape, volume, and movement is consciously skewed, we react with the same level of negativity that would get approbation if it were a set of pleasing balances.
  It also explains part of how it is that we, with no formal fashion education, can look at someone and know instantly that the set of things they have on does not work for them.
    I suppose we could place this skill in the same box with any other pattern recognition tools we routinely use as human persons.  We can pick out a close friend, from the back, in a crowd, and know absolutely that its them.  We can go to a shelf and pull a book out, not by reading the title, but by recognizing the color, or thickness.  This base line recognition skill is along the same lines, and it connects us directly to the earliest parts of our existence.  From a biological standpoint, moving the species forward and birthing good offspring was helped by being able to identify the characteristics that would ensure survival.  Broad hips and ample breasts for women. Broad shoulders and narrow waists for men.  And we wanted our children to be beautiful as well as healthy, so learning to see what things make a person beautiful to us, is also connected to survival traits.
    So we look at, and see, far more deeply than we let ourselves think on, on a conscious level.  We see relationships, patterns, and proportions all around us, all the time, that please our eyes, and actually activate chemical responses in our brains that are pleasurable to us.
    Next time you see someone whose Attire statement works all the way around and down to the ground, give a minute or two to thinking about the specifics of why and how it all works so well.


  1. Nice! And for the last two images, you went imperial/royal on us: the Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich and Queen Maude of Norway's dress! : )

    1. And leave it to you to know that on sight. I love you for that.