Fashion is an essential part of human experience and an industry worth over $1.7 trillion. Important choices such as hiring or dating someone are often based on the clothing people wear, and yet we understand almost nothing about the objective features that make an outfit fashionable. In this study, we provide an empirical approach to this key aesthetic domain, examining the link between color coordination and fashionableness. Studies reveal a robust quadratic effect, such that that maximum fashionableness is attained when outfits are neither too coordinated nor too different. In other words, fashionable outfits are those that are moderately matched, not those that are ultra-matched (“matchy-matchy”) or zero-matched (“clashing”). This balance of extremes supports a broader hypothesis regarding aesthetic preferences–the Goldilocks principle–that seeks to balance simplicity and complexity.
Excessively color matched people look try-hard and dorky. Color clashing people look unkempt and imperceptive. The sweet spot is looking like you took some care to put yourself together, but not too much care. You look good in the whole, but glimmers of rebellion and inattentiveness adorn your aura. You might call this fashion rule the sartorial equivalent of the Careless Aloof Asshole attitude.
Interestingly, the color scheme that is most fashionable to the human eye is a metaphor for the social scheme that is most attractive to the female heart. Ambiguity is chicknip. Women neither want socially awkward (socially clashing) men, nor romantically obvious (sexually try-hard) men. Women love most those men who are smooth talkers acting on a boldness leavened with a plausibly deniable doubtfulness of intention.
Push-pull. Hot/cold/hot/cold. Good advice in matters sexual and stylistic.