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Science of Fashion and Goldilocks principle – What’s common?

Fashion Retail

Asking a question like “Why do we wear what we wear?”, normally results in “Look Good” and further probing leads to “Feel Good”. Although it is obvious that fashion helps in outwardly fulfilment, it helps as much, in fulfilling a fundamental emotional need with a larger life consequence. With over 1.7 trillion US$ in global market size, there has been very less objective and empirical exploration of answering questions like “What to wear?” What would look good on me?” etc..

Let’s start with two fundamental questions ‘What is science?’ and ‘What is fashion?’ before we begin our exploration of the science of fashion.

What is science?

Science is the concerted human effort to understand, or to understand better, the history of the natural world, and how natural world works, with observable physical evidence as the basis for that understanding. It is done through observation of natural phenomena and/or through experimentation that tries to simulate natural processes under controlled conditions.

What is fashion?

By the dictionary definition


Fashion is a popular or latest style of clothing, hair, decoration or behaviour. Fashion is a manner of doing something.

Attempt to study the science of fashion? We will first look at the Goldilocks principle (courtesy Wikipedia) The Goldilocks principle is the idea that there is an ideal amount of some measurable substance, an amount in the middle or means of a continuum of amounts, and that this amount is “just right” for a life-supporting condition to exist. The analogy is based on the children’s story, The Three Bears, in which a little girl named Goldilocks tastes three different bowls of porridge, and she finds that she prefers porridge which is neither too hot nor too cold but has just the right temperature. Since the children’s story is well known across cultures, the concept of “just the right amount” is easily understood and is easily applied to a wide range of disciplines, including developmental psychologybiologyeconomics and engineering.

 A team of researchers at Department of Psychology at University of North Carolina started looking at an objective way to answer a question like

“What looks fashionable?”

This team focussed on one of the key variables in fashion choices, colour coordination and its perception on fashionable. The team worked with a sample of men and women and asked them to rate outfit combinations with colour palettes on what is fashionable to them.

You can read the summary of the report here.

The results of the research throw an interesting direction wherein adults behave the same as infants bringing in their taste (fashionableness) to the Goldilocks zone.

This data suggest a simple answer to the question “what to wear?” Select a colour combination that is neither completely uniform nor different, the golden middle. Neither matchy nor clashy. At Stylumia, we believe in consumer driven data. We wanted to validate if Goldilocks principle is in action with Indian consumer tastes. We looked at top 100 consumer loving women tops from Stylumia platform (using Artificial intelligence for Fashion), from the context of colour combinations from plain, moderate mix of colours and clash of colours. We kept at bay other attributes like shape and style out of this analysis.  The numbers do indicate a thick middle but not as thick to ignore the fair domination of solids.

Solids (Matchy): 46%
Moderate play of colours: 51%
Clash of colours (Clashy): 3%
Now keeping the colour dimension at bay, and looking the tops through the lens of shape, this is what we got, which aligns largely to a golden middle.
Conservative: 27%
Moderate: 55%
Outgoing/Bold: 18%


Definitely, the research paper above provides a direction to have an objective view of a very important part of our life “Fashion”.

With Stylumia, our clients are able to get the pulse near real-time from millions of Indian consumers and also a view of Global fashion trend, staying ahead with fashion trend insights.

Are you ready to step into Science of Fashion and get closer and closer to the most important part of any business “The Consumers”?

Article by Ganesh Subramanian

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