Clothes for personal growth
This is the story of three people who met each other four years
ago in the Danish Template Network and became involved in work together relating
to personal development and understandings about life. We decided to do a project
together to gather and test our knowledge and understanding in these areas.
So a wish to increase our potential and to understand ourselves
better was the starting place for this project, and during it we developed methods
for self discovery and how to actively steer towards purposeful living.
This project could have been about many subjects, but we chose
clothes, as this is an area where all our interests and expertise came together
and because we wanted to make something of quality. Once we had decided on the
subject we found it important to look at our own individual characteristics,
what values and intentions we have, how we realise them, and then to bring them
all together, as the method of design is holistic - how a person operates as
we looked at such things as blood type, astrology, numerology, nationality,
Chinese astrology. Looking at a person through these approaches gives a wide
range of information, and it is impersonal because it leaves out personal psychologies
caused by upbringing and other sociological factors.
Here follows an example of a personal description that resulted from this approach:
beauty, balance, vanity, care, just, poetic, confused, fickle, free, easy, everywhere,
energy bomb, creative, seeking, dominant, intelligent, busy, quick, succesful,
fanatic, dedicated, shoot-aim-hit, direct, charming, freedom, fatal, sign of
eternity, catastrophe/success, life/death, all/nothing, rebirth, chaos, transformation,
change, nomadic, flexible, versatile, teamwork, love, femininity, development,
contemplation, understanding, originality, social mingler, radical change, primeval
urge, the ability to do what’s necessary.
So what is the story we want to tell? It is about a method that can help reveal
who we are, and about how to turn this insight into something that can support,
strengthen and give reflection back to us. Also we urgently wanted to find a
way in which to express ourselves in the spirit of these times, where keywords
like individualism and teamwork are in focus, and where a need for value and
a time for contemplation is pressing as a result of our high-speed lifestyles.
We proceeded from the notion that using precious time and energy for a project
brings a greater understanding and appreciation for the work being done, and
allows the important process of leaving one’s mark on the material. So
every thought leaves its stamp and the craft becomes a means of weaving thought
and action together.
Our method of approach for these individual designs is based on the simple
but significant blueprint of the human complex having five extremities (head,
arms and legs), each representing a prime energy through the colours white,
green, yellow, blue and red, a journey from intention to result.
||intention with the project
||uninhibited generation of ideas
||visualisation and values
||structuring and choice of procedure
||carrying out and completing the project
These five energies, together with the rainbow spectrum colours, are the basis
for choosing the colours in the suits. For inspiration to do with style we looked
at the 4,000 years of the history of clothes. We found that often the historic
period we are fascinated by and are drawn to is something we can identify with.
We made a point of tuning the ecology of our workshop to create a space in
which efficiency and creativity could thrive, we cleaned the place regularly,
measured the nature of the day, had lots of fresh air and made a pleasant environment
with flowers, music and fresh and focused minds.
Although the project is about three individual suits, we all worked on each
other’s suits as we wanted to make use of each other’s skills and
resources. We developed a 50/50 principle, space for individual excellence and
a team spirit in practical issues and mental attitude. As an example, we only
worked on the project when all three of us were present.
What are clothes?
Apart from the protective, decorative and socially signalling role which clothing
represents, it can also be a means of communication to self, and to the unseen
worlds. What do we mean by the unseen worlds? The human is able to attract and
process energies from the ground and the surroundings. The conscious use of
colour, shape, symbol and number can attract corresponding energies and boost
one’s own processes, much like a priest will dress in a garment with certain
colours, shapes and symbols for a particular ceremony to strengthen his divine
connections. Thus clothes can become a manifestation of one’s purpose,
a statement reminding oneself about what is important.
Choice of colour and materials
How can we determine the effect of what we are wearing? This can be done through
colour, for example surrounding oneself with as many blue objects as possible
and focussing on the colour, collecting examples of where blue is found in natural
settings (the sky, veins, eyes, flowers etc). Is there any connection between
the examples, where are they found, what is their function? The answers to these
questions will give some clue as to the meaning of the colour, which will find
expression at various levels. At one level blue can represent balance, at another
level a standard, on a third level it can represent discipline towards a goal.
So a person feeling a bit jittery can put on a blue sweater to seek a balancing
effect, and that is the level of blue that is being sought, even though all
the other levels are there as a background influence. The same method of research
can be used on the other colours, whose nature and influence is too vast a subject
to cover here.
The type of material is important as well, the body’s electromagnetic
field can process through natural fibres uninterrupted, whilst synthetic fibres
have a blocking effect on the exhaust of ’used’ energy. Synthetic
fibres, especially tights, also collect static electricity. That is why we have
chosen natural materials like cotton, flax and silk and for our suits.
The three suits
Intentions representing a wish to develop beyond one’s basic nature are
woven into the suits. Each suit is built around three key notions:
||Calmness and reflection
||Communication between the inner and outer worlds
||Action and heart
Purpose; to grow as a human, develop my potential and to strengthen connection
to the unseen worlds and the universe.This suit is made to inspire, cause joy,
celebrate life’s greatness, to balance and correct one’s focus.
Encouragement to act is symbolised by the red in the skirt. The blue represents
the balance between attitude and action.
The square and angled lines in the bottom counter the wavy and rounded lines
at the top of the suit and express the relationship between the physical, earthbound
and the mental, electrical contained in the same person. The sleeves are made
according to the fixing energy of the right hand - expressed with golden embroidery,
and the dissolving nature of the left hand - expressed with silver embroidery.
The hood is made with an indigo lining decorated like a canopy of stars, and
is designed to be used when the need for a more internal process arises. The
materials used are cotton velvet, cotton satin, raw silk and silk satin. The
suit is made for special ceremonies, meditation and situations when I work with
The silver line symbolises action and the course of life, where the golden
buttons represent an attitude to life based on the three key words given above.
No action without attitude. We have combined our three planetary signs, Venus,
Jupiter and Mercury into one collective symbol, to express the force of our
collective strengths and actions when we are in process together. This symbol
is featured in each of our suits.
||to remember how easy it is to be connected
||to clearly see what is most important for my development
||to keep my mind open and ready for new perception
The purpose of my suit is an intention to reach a deeper self-understanding,
to be true to my inner being and to remind me where I am going in my personal
development by making my intentions plain to see. Take action and change. I
wish to use my suit for special ceremonies, meditation and situations when I
work with personal development.
The turban-like headdress is made in a spiralling shape (and nicknamed ’spirban’).
The spiralling movement continues down the body with the scarf, denoting a union
between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A silver fringe runs along the scarf
as a symbol of a living and playful energy on the path of life. The bottom edge
of the dress gives a sense of gravity and grounding. The green colour is for
creativity, initiative, new ideas and openness. Violet symbolises vision and
spirituality, and terracotta denotes grounding and is calming. The materials
used are cotton jersey, silk velvet, and silk satin. Gold, representing an introverted
and holding energy is found on the right sleeve, and silver, the extrovert and
transmitting energy on the left. The cufflinks are adorned with the symbol of
eternity and immortality. The crystals on the front of the headdress represent
honesty and purity, and the collection and holding of energies.
||not wasting energy on lies
||to do what needs doing
||the joy of real freedom
Purpose; to grow as a human, develop my potential and strengthen connections
to the unseen worlds.
My suit is a mix of intentions, wishes and a statement of who I am. The symbology
used is in number, colour and shape; as an example, the neck cut is open, expressing
a fundamental attitude of openness to people, new thoughts and ideas. The vest
is simple and straight, much like I am. Seven buttons represent the colours
of the rainbow spectrum. The lining is blue and made of silk which has an insulating
and preserving capacity, working as a filter for actions to have gone through
standards and principles. The shirt is made of a tough material, is white for
knowledge and forms the spine of the suit. The open cut symbolises freedom,
and the suit is made for walks and meditation.
Roots symbolise grounding and being plugged in to what is real and basic. The
green colour of the flax trousers represents creativity, versatility and swiftness.
The runes represent history and backbone, the silver sign is for the push to
victory, combined with the sign for growth and fertility. It wants to progress,
further and refine what issues from me. The ancient golden sign for the human
is there to remind me what a fantastic thing it is to be human, with all its
What is the use of these clothes?
The concept of the suits is to be both an internal mirror and to provide a visual
reminder about who we are and our intentions. The long process of designing
and making them is lodged in the suits themselves, and so acts as a supporting
platform for the standards come to and for personal growth. As we use them more
and more, this will increase the benefits, as each time they are worn it will
connect to an increasing string of success and development. They are created
from our best current perception, with the possibility of adding features, symbols
and jewellery according to our development and understanding.
- How do you imagine a super-version of yourself to be?
- How would you express yourself?
- Why did we do this project?
- What is the meaning of life?
- How do you want to use your life?
Dorrit Shoshan, 36, is an independent clothes designer,
working with archetypes and human qualities through design. Has been part of
(involved in) the Template Network since 1999.
Marianne Schøett Pedersen, 29, artistic painter
by profession, is studying relaxation therapy. Has been part of the Template
Network since 1998.
Johannes Nielsen, 29, bricklayer and painter, is studying
furniture and spatial design. Has been part of the Template Network since 1998.