top of page

Dressing the Archetypes

During my years as a designer in the clothing business, I was always working on a new collection. Three to four specific ”looks” usually seemed more interesting than others. These might be described as sporty, romantic or intellectual, and figuring out their corresponding colors, shapes and types of garments was like learning a new language. 

My interest in fashion trends eventually turned into a growing fascination of the human psyche and collective consciousness. The more I learned, the more obvious was the close connection between different clothing styles and archetypes. 

An archetype is a universal energy pattern that embodies specific qualities and behaviors.

As a kid, my friends and I often played dressing up games. It was like a magical ritual that really changed our perception. You felt different. You became somebody else.

Remembering how different ways to dress could evoke specific behaviors, I realized that the dressing-up game could be used to embody the different archetypes. Clothes could help us become more whole.

Together the goddess archetypes create a wholeness of human qualities. 

The archetypes help us look at our lives from a larger and deeper perspective than our ordinary day-to-day lives. Through them the mythic dimension of the Self becomes apparent. 

As we take a look at the role of different archetypes in our lives, we realize that some of them are familiar and comfortable to us, while others are unfamiliar. When they have been partially or totally excluded from our lives they become disowned and can get really scary. 

One reason for a part of us to be disowned could be that we were punished every time it emerged when we were kids. These punishments might have been subtle, like a raised eyebrow, the withdrawal of attention or a that's rather unattractive, don't you think? Or there might have been severe punishments such as beatings or public humiliation. Regardless of reason, the result is the same: The specific archetype is considered totally unacceptable and is repressed. 

But an archetype can never disappear, it lives on in our unconscious. And can cause havoc… 

We got to meet many of the archetypes through fairy tales in childhood. In Briar-Rose, or Sleeping Beauty, we learned what happens when we don’t acknowledge and honor them.

… At the christening of a king and queen's long-wished-for daughter, only twelve of the thirteen fairies in the country were invited to be her godmothers, since they only had twelve golden plates. As the feast came to an end, the fairies bestowed their magic gifts upon the baby: one gave her virtue, another beauty, a third riches, and so on with everything in the world that one can wish for.

When eleven of them had made their promises, the thirteenth fairy suddenly came in. She wished to avenge herself for not having been invited. Without greeting, or even looking at anyone, she cried with a loud voice: 

"The King’s daughter shall in her fifteenth year prick herself with a spindle, and fall down dead."

The last fairy had yet to give her gift and used it to partially reverse the wicked fairy's curse, proclaiming that the princess would instead fall into a deep sleep for 100 years and be awoken by a king's son … 

Certain archetypes are culturally disowned, like the so called ”darker” energies of the Feminine. In Sleeping Beauty this is hinted at when the king only has twelve golden plates. (There are twelve solar and thirteen lunar months in a year.) He chose to go with the solar (masculine) measure, which which led to the budding feminine being struck with a terrible fate.

That same drama is played out in our psyche. Archetypes we don’t acknowledge turn against us.

The archetypes are connected to mythic stories and certain human themes. If we can recognize these, and see what archetype we need to acknowledge, we can heal through inviting then into our lives. Clothes can be a way to do this. It can actually turn fate around.

This post is the first in a series about feminine archetypes and how we can evoke their power through clothes. I will take a closer look at some of the most prominent archetypes and give examples of how they can be expressed through clothing styles. 

I invite you to go deeper with me in this process. If you accept that invitation I will suggest some things to think about, like… Which do you invite to your table? Who is left out? Would you be willing to play the dressing up game to embody her?

Image by Eddi van W.

Are you interested in conscious clothing and the future of clothes?

Subscribe to our newsletter!

bottom of page