Fashion and Your 5 Senses

Quality fashion should do more than dress your body – it should make your 5 senses sit up and take notice. Your senses should awaken, and enjoy and appreciate, the fashion experience. According to publications in the Australian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences, the term sensory branding refers to the marketing of brands by addressing each of our senses. The more our brain gets involved with the brand experience, the more the brand will stick with us.

Think about your closet and your favorite sweater. Is it your favorite because it is super soft (sense of touch), or because it is the perfect hue of grey that you love so much (sense of sight)? When it comes to sensory branding and fashion, each piece of clothing and each accessory can elicit its own sensory reaction. These sensory reactions help create your overall look. If you love the feelings you get from your clothes, you’ll demonstrate that with more confidence in your step, giving you a sense of both of power and comfort.

Shopping With Your Senses

Now, imagine shopping for clothes while wearing gloves, with a severe sinus infection knocking out your sense of smell, and while wearing ear-plugs. Oh – and don’t lick anything – just in case you get the urge. Your shopping experience is much different. Even though you can see the clothes on the racks, you can’t experience them. Consider these examples of how all of your senses play a vital role in your fashion choices.

Sense of Sight – Let’s just get Mr. Obvious out of the way – the sense of sight. When we think of fashion, we often think of what we see. We watch the models on the runway, we flip through glossy pages of the latest magazines, and we stare at endless displays at the mall and in boutique windows. Our sense of sight helps to filter out the endless pants, dresses, blouses, skirts, and accessories before us. It is the “starter sense” for many of us when it comes to fashion. However, in order to get the complete fashion experience, sight cannot be the sole determiner for our choices.

Sense of Touch – For many people the sense of touch is the second most important sensory factor when selecting clothing. That sweater may look amazing, but one touch of the sleeve tells you that you’ll be itching and scratching your elbows and neck before you even make it out the door. Think of the reaction you get when you slide your fingers over the hangers in your closest and you rest on suede, silk, leather, wool. Does the silk make you feel feminine? When you put on that leather coat do you feel strong and maybe a bit tough? Let your sense of touch guide your clothing purchases.

Sense of Hearing – Sure, that cotton t-shirt might not sound like much to you, but how about your favorite heels tapping along the hallway? Often the embellishments on our clothing and accessories add to the sensory experience of sound. Fringes, beading, and metallic bangles each give you a different fashion experience. Does your trench coat crunch as you walk in the cold? Your pant legs sound like they are whispering squeaky tales as you quickly walk down the hall? Your too-old gym shoes give you away before you turn the corner with their rubber gurgling? The next time you choose your outfit for the day or shop the racks, listen to what the clothes are telling you.


Sense of Smell – You know the one. The shirt that smells like comfort. Clothing brings about a myriad of olfactory reactions. Some of these smells are because of the fabric and dye contents, and will significantly remain with the garment. Sometimes your sense of smell reacts to the prints on the dress – such as floral designs bringing a floral sense to your nose. Other odors you actually influence include those when you care for the clothing. Are you line drying and using a fabric softener? Dry cleaning? Throwing everything in the dryer for convenience? Your hair products and perfumes also find their ways seeping into the garments. How you care for your clothes makes a big impact on that sensory experience.

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Sense of Taste – When was the last time you intentionally licked your shirt? Hopefully it isn’t a habit for you (and you maybe only resort to it when your favorite ice cream dribbles on your favorite tee shirt and you are miles from a sink or napkin). But your sense of taste does come into play with fashion, especially since it is tied so closely to your sense of smell. So unless you have a personal preference for edible underwear, your sense of taste for fashion will most likely have more to do with your taste for certain styles – your preferences for which items hang in your closet and which ones stay on the racks.

The next time you are considering adding something to your wardrobe, pay attention to all of your senses. Let your wardrobe give you a fashion sensory experience, and satisfy your hunger for some amazing looks.