Exploring the Psychological Characteristics of Style and Fashion Clothing Orientations

Kristian S. Nielsen*, Tina Joanes, Dave Webb, Shipra Gupta, Wencke Gwozdz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This study aims to examine the conceptual distinction of two clothing orientations – style orientation and fashion orientation. Style and fashion orientations both express identity and individuality, but the fashion orientation may more strongly reflect materialistic values, which extensive evidence shows are detrimental to well-being. This study investigates how the clothing orientations are associated with materialism and subjective well-being.

The conceptual distinction between style and fashion orientations and their associations with materialism and subjective well-being were investigated via an online survey (N = 4,591) conducted in Germany, Poland, Sweden and the USA. Participants aged 18–65 were recruited based on national representative quotas for age, gender, education and region.

The regression results support a conceptual distinction between the style and fashion orientation. Style orientation was positively associated with subjective well-being compared to fashion orientation. Both the style and fashion orientations were positively correlated with materialism, but the association was much stronger for fashion orientation and materialism exhibited a strong negative association with subjective well-being. Interestingly, materialism moderated the association between fashion orientation and well-being but not between style orientation and well-being.

Research limitations/implications
The four examined countries were Western, and, thus, the findings cannot be generalized to other populations. In addition, this study specifically examined relationships in a clothing context. To enable wider generalization, the relationships tested must be explored in other countries, especially non-Western, and also across other product categories.

Practical implications
The findings of this study can help retailers develop their marketing programs, product and service offerings and specifically their communications more closely targeted to consumers’ clothing orientations.

This study contributes by conceptually distinguishing between clothing style and fashion orientations and investigating their divergent associations to materialism and subjective well-being. This research also raises the question of whether fashion orientation is independent or rather, an aspect of materialism, which has implications for other consumption domains as well.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Consumer Marketing
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Epub ahead of print. Published online: 15 August 2023


  • Clothing consumption
  • Clothing
  • Fashion
  • Materialism
  • Subjective well-being

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