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Day 132: The Theory of Relative Cuteness

Tomorrow, I am going to attend a clothes swap with my friends. You know what this means:


The last time I went to one of these, though, I took home more stuff than I had intended to. Most of it wasn't even stuff I really liked, it's just the Theory Of Relative Cuteness.

Oh, what's that? You don't know about the Theory of Relative Cuteness? That's OK, I just created it. But I think you know what I'm talking about.
The scientific study of cuteness.

It's like, when you go into a store, you judge the clothes relative to the other clothes in there. Say, The Gap. So, for the last few years, they have had a lot of oddly-shaped grey and nude-coloured dresses and tops. But once you're in there, you start judging the clothes against the other clothes in the same store. So, a peach-and-grey striped floofy top that you wouldn't look at twice in another store, suddenly becomes attractive. It's the Relative Cuteness of the item.

Conversely, if you go into a store where all of the clothes appeal to your sensibility (i.e. American Apparel or Joe Fresh for me) then the Relative Cuteness goes up. Suddenly, items that would be the best in a lesser store are not even put into consideration.
Note: this would never be cute. Unless it is surrounded by yet more heinous items...?
So, it's like this. Let's say you have item A (extremely cute), item B (cute) and item C (meh). When you go into the first store, they have items B and C. This makes B suddenly appear even more cute, and you buy it. And let's say you go into another store, where they have item C and a bunch of gross stuff. Suddenly item C looks great. And then you go into yet another store, which has items A through Z. Of course Item A is now the best.

So it's hard to discern how cute something is, based on what's around it. This is why brides may choose to give their bridesmaids very fugly dresses - so that their own relative cuteness increases.

Relative cuteness magnified 100%!

It's easy to get tricked by the Theory of Relative Cuteness into buying something that you don't really like. It's a challenge to see items for themselves, not just in comparison to what they're surrounded by. ESPECIALLY when in a context where all the clothes are free.

My challenge at the clothing swap is to only take items that I actually want. I can't get carried away with things that I might maybe want. Especially since I'm trying to have les clothes (working my way toward Project 333 and all). Anyway, I will be taking a bunch of things that I never wear, so it will definitely free up some space in my closet.


(Note: the image of the ugly dress, was found at You Want Me To Wear What? I recommend that site to find a number of clothes that fit well below category C. This is like, the Z-list of questionable attire. And I found the bridesmaid picture at Ugly Dress. Both vair fun websites)


~Carla~ said...

You should totally post your "new" clothes! :) Are you gonna hope for one of those red & white bridesmaid dresses? ;) lol!

Annabelle said...

I took pictures of the whole event and will post pics of my loot tomorrow! I got some great stuff! (no bridesmaid dresses, sadly)

Frugal(er) said...

This is exactly why I go to the store and come home with a bunch of "what was I thinking" stuff.

Amanda said...

I love the Theory of Relative Cuteness and may end up citing it in the near future. Absolutely brilliant.

And thanks for the link! This post was brilliant.

Annabelle said...

Frugal(er), yes. Once you get the questionable items out of the context of the uglier things surrounding them (i.e. back home) the truth is right there in front of you.

Amanda - thanks! I think Relative Cuteness is especially applicable on Anthropologie and ModCloth, where you can be so easily lulled into thinking that the most bizarre things are cute.

Lindy Mint said...

Seriously, the Gap has gone down over the past few years. I'm glad that none of those hideous nude tops have fit me, because I'm pretty sure I would have come home with them based on your theory of relative cuteness.

This also explains why I banned myself from ever shopping for clothes at TJ Maxx because I cannot discern cuteness in such a varied clothing environment. Good theory! You should publish it on Wikipedia.

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