I don’t know a single person who hasn’t at least once ordered some item of clothing that looked perfect in a picture, only to be disappointed when it arrived. “Oh, I thought it would look different”, or “It looked better in the picture.”
Of course it looked better in the picture. There was no sag, no uneven seam or hem, the garment fit like it was custom-made, and the model was probably standing in a pose that few real people assume during their normal day. Not to mention the obvious – that the model was beautiful and could wear just about anything, and to top it off there was a fan just off-stage to ensure that her hair was blowing seductively.
Marketing people spend hours every day figuring ways to get your money, and they know hundreds of tricks to ensure that even a potato sack will look flattering on the model in the photo. The problem is, of course, that you don’t receive the marketing team in the mail with your order, so on you the potato sack looks like . . ., well, a potato sack.
Showing you how to “read” photos with the proper skepticism is only one of the ways this column will help you become a better shopper. We will also talk about fabric content, garment lengths, coordinating colors, quality, and just about any other topic that can help you get more mileage out of your limited shopping dollars.
To get the ball rolling, I’ve taken some pictures from a book (see below) on what to wear and what not to wear, depending on problem areas of your body. These pictures clearly illustrate how small differences can affect our attitude towards what we’re seeing. The same model wears most of the clothing, but whenever highlighting what they called the worst items, the model seems to be less attractive than when wearing the “best” items. In the first picture she’ll look downcast or stand awkwardly whereas in the second she’ll be beaming or standing more gracefully. Differences like this register in our subconscious and make us agree more readily with an author’s or marketing team’s point of view. I suspect that in this particular book the authors intended these facial differences to be humorous, but it still illustrates the point of how photos influence our opinion of the clothing.
Notice how the first model is almost scowling, and her hands are behind her. The second model, in contrast, is smiling and looks totally self-confident the way her hands are on her hips.
Again it’s not only the different facial expressions but also the arm positions. Notice how the second model looks much more graceful holding her hands gently together in front of her while the first looks awkward, as if standing at attention.
Learning to read every picture as if you were a detective is essential if you want to avoid disappointments when ordering online or from catalogs, and this is exactly what The Savvy Shopper is here for.
Until next time . . . .
What Not to Wear, by Trinny Woodall & Susannah Constantine