Tag Archives: reading

The Great Thing About Making Bad Decisions

Such an inspiring book. ‘Whatever You Think, Think The Opposite’ is written by Paul Arden and made me feel great about the way I work. The book lets you in on how making bad decisions can lead to surprising achievements and rewards.

It explains that your bad decisions can actually influence others, for example, in the day, high jumpers used to jump over the bar front first – almost like a forward roll. This was called the Western Roll.

However in the 1968 Mexico Olympics a guy called Dick Fosbury approached the bar but turned his back on it, flipping his legs up from behind him – beating all the other athletes by miles. This is called a Fosbury Flop and is now used by everyone.

Just shows that making a daring decision can have great impact.

“The problem with making sensible decisions is that so is everyone else”

Another really funny story is explained of an Oxford professor bathing naked in a river. He was getting out when a boat of undergraduates floated by. In sheer panic he went for his towel and wrapped it around his head. The bottom line is he would rather conceal his identity than being humiliated!

Arden points out that showing people your work is a good way in getting constructive criticism. However, do not ask them what they think about it, as they will probably say everything positive – not wanting to offend. The only way to get great constructive criticism is to ask them what is wrong with the work and give them permission to give truthful comments – accept the comments and do not fight back! This is key in developing work, amending the problems and most importantly gaining strength in what you do.

“Be your own worst critic. When things go wrong, it’s tempting to shift the blame. Don’t. Accept responsibility. People will appreciate it, and you will find out what you’re capable of.”


Arden illustrates that having too many ideas is not always good. You tend to become flustered and do not finish things to their utmost potential because you have something ‘better’. Maybe having fewer ideas are better so you become more focused and work harder on each of them – making the most of the ideas you have.

This book is really motivating as when I work I usually take risks, however, I’m also thinking it might be better just to go down the safer route. But a little of me thinks – “that does not get people talking about your work, it’s not exciting to be safe”. It is the same when you go into a gallery and see something full of sexual content and quite disturbing. You end up talking about it throughout the whole gallery saying how obscene it is. Even when you exit the building you tell your friends about it. TELLING THEM ABOUT IT. This is the way it has effected you. The image has remained stuck in your brain. Memorable. This is what taking risks is all about. Taking things over the edge. So yes risk-taking creatively is something I truly believe in.

Leaving on one of my favourite inspirational quotes, he concludes:

“The world is what you think of it. So think of it different and your life will change”

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Design & The Market: Me Choosing My Path

Oh dear. So yes – putting life in my hands. Today in our Design Market group we looked at choosing the path we would take into achieving our potential business. What you need to think about to make it a sustainable and successful one. Scary stuff.

To begin with, we had a look at our ‘would-be’ customers and wrote down a list of the customer groups they would be. For example: Students; Fashion Runway Buyers; Hospital Buyers; etc. For each one we had to outline what their needs would be, what we would be offering them, how many there are, and so forth. Through this method of analysing our future customers it helps to see if your business has potential and whether it is actually needed. For my business, I found a number of different customer groups which I think is good because it brings range and excitement of varying customers. However, I think I would need a rather large team to back me up on the amount of work I would need to do!

Next, we headed into the Blueprinting Modelling sector. This, I found, was the most difficult. Just couldn’t get my head round where to put things! Blueprinting is a detailed flow diagram of your business’s stages in carrying out, for example, a commission piece. It just shows how your business will function when it’s actually doing business. For me, I looked at where I would go to create contacts then try get some of my work out to the public somehow, find people to work with me and so on. Sounds do-able. This allowed me to view the process of my hopeful business at hand. How it might work. How I can change it tomake it work.

Lastly, we looked at the importance of building relationships in business. Not lovey-dovey ones, professional team-work ones. It is important because it makes all stages in the process work. Imagine doing it all yourself? We focused on the four areas of activity in business. The Generator, the Realiser, the Distributor and the Customer. We had to find people we would need for each of the areas. I placed myself in the Realiser zone, as well as other collaborators, because I feel that is where my strengths lie. However, I would over-see other areas frequently. This exercise allows me to see who I would need to build relationships with and it’s importance. Building relationships improves and makes your business stronger. More sustainable. You just need to make sure there is plenty of trust and that they love the business as much as you do.

These exercises were helpful in outlining how my business would operate, create contacts/clients and who I would need to make it happen. Building relationships crops up again and again. It seems now that who you know can help greatly in business – like the old saying: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”.

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Design & The Market: Evidence Modelling

Evidence Modelling

Today in our Design & Market Module, we were asked to look at evidence modelling. Evidence modelling is about creating a picture of what your potential business would be like in the future and aiding in giving a clear direction of where to go with it. It focuses on 4 extreme questions to ask when considering your business – this helps to understand the beneficial impact of your business but also can point out the possible mistakes that can stop you from achieving your dream.

This exercise helped me to think about the advantages and disadvantages my business may have in greater depth. It made me focus on what ways I could improve the business and to see it more realistically in my mind. However, my potential business needs huge development and research as it looks into the future of jewellery trends more than actual current designs. It will be an interesting challenge.

Fake Evidence

For the next exercise we had to think of fake evidence. This is where we had to construct evidence through imagining the future success of our business. This could be in the form of a website, an advert on the side of a bus, etc. I went for a few as I believe my market is quite wide.

Just a very very rough sketch!

Through investigating the future success and methods of advertising it helps see the consequences of the business as well as looking into successful ways to get the brand out there.

SWOT Analysis

SWOT analysis was the last task we had to complete for our business. There were 4 boxes outlining different aspects to think about the business: Strengths and Weaknesses (Internal); Opportunities and Threats (External) or SWOT. It allows us to examine the business’s position nature. This task helped me because I tried to think about turning all the weaknesses into possible opportunities. For instance, if I was bad at making film I could maybe collaborate with a filmy person, thus, creating a huge benefit! We could expand making more exciting films and let ideas bounce off one another.

All these exercises linked back to our Mission Statements and was great because it makes us think that we could actually do this. We could actually make our potential businesses real.

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My Mission

For Assignment 2 we are required to write a mission statement. A mission statement is a short, concise summary describing what your business is, what you do, what your business intentions are and why you are in business. They can tell customers and potential clients.


We were asked to write down what we would value from most to least in our potential business. Our values should reflect the way in how I wish to work, how I want my work to be received and how I would interact with customers, suppliers and funders.

Here are my values for my potential company:

So why are values important?

They’ll help you:

– keep your business on track when clients offer you opportunities and choices.

– remain inspired when having to go through the more tedious side of business or when things are not going all to plan.

– examine how your work/life balance needs to be altered.

– to evaluate your business concept in terms of how it honours your values.

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Design & The Market: Engaging With the Designer

Had a really successful weekend with this research project so far. I was able to get hold of a woman who worked with Stephen Webster for 3 years so should have a considerable amount of insight into his business. She has made prompt responses to my emails which is always a good sign and only lives 2 hours away so will arrange an interview with her very soon.

In our group today, we met up and brainstormed what Stephen Webster was all about: his inspirations, advertising, press, etc. It was brilliant, it all seemed we had done our homework! We then focused on areas where we would require more information and have selected separate ones for each of us to research on for friday. I chose ‘Inspirations’. The team also managed to brainstorm questions which could be asked for the interview and type up a confidentiality consent form.

Overall,  a very productive day. Well done team!

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My Thoughts on Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

After reading this book, I have to agree following your instincts sometimes is a good way to go. For instance, this may be a pretty naff example, as I was posting an A4-sized letter I wondered why they hadn’t made the post-box hole bigger for A4 letters. Hmmmm….. After squeezing it through the letter box I walked away feeling a little unsure. Turns out my mum had to pay a pound something to get my letter because of its size. I should have just folded the dam letter and taped it. Euh.

I was even reading this book at the time of this horrible incident! ‘Blink’ by Malcolm Gladwell is about snap judgements and gives numerous examples of when judgements go right and wrong through scientific research and stories.

Thin-slicing was one of the chapters explaining how our unconscious minds can make pretty accurate assumptions in a very short period of time. There was a great research experiment in the chapter showing if couples were compatible through a casual chat. The couple were video-taped whilst having a conversation about buying a dog – a seemingly harmless subject. First impressions, the conversation seems playful in manner and typical. However, when the researchers analysed the tape carefully, they discovered something quite different. Their facial expressions, body language patterns, and gestures, revealed many deep-seated problems which most probably will interfere with their future relationship.

Another chapter later in the book describes a firefighter’s experience on making a critical snap decision which not only saved his life but the lives of others too. The fire was in a kitchen in the back of a one-story house in a residential neighbourhood, Cleveland. Firefighters broke down the door and made an attempt to douse the fire with water. However, the water did not seem to dissipate. The fire lieutenant remembers, he suddenly thought to himself, “There’s something wrong here”, and he immediately commanded his men out. Moments later, the floor they were standing on collapsed. It appeared that the fire was in the basement, not in the kitchen. The lieutenant cannot explain how he know to get out, it just “blinked” and, thus, made the right decision.

Overall, the book was a very interesting read. Relating to my discipline, when making decisions I will most likely go with my gut feeling. When talking to customers or clients I will try and read their body gestures in order to see if they are comfortable with my designs or ideas.

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Design Proposal: Smoking


Four million people die worldwide each year from smoking and tobacco kills 60% of its customers. Why don’t these figures scare smokers? Smoking is becoming a big problem around the UK as more and more young people take to the fag. In Semester 1 I created a mind map titled ‘Suicide, Smoking and the Search for the Unsticky Cigarette’, a chapter from ‘The Tipping Point’ by Malcolm Gladwell, and discussed with others possible ways in which to resolve the issues explained. Through utilising my findings in Semester 1 and different methods from Assignment 1 to 4 in Semester 2, I will be researching the topic of smoking in depth to find out real reasons why young people begin to smoke and what influences them.

Research Method

Our first assignment in Semester 2 ‘Are You What You Wear/Buy/Sit On/Sleep In/Talk To?’ was about analysing photos of someone’s house or childhood photos to determine what kind of person they are. I believe this method would not give you genuine reasons as to why people smoke because you need to find out what kind of person they are from talking to them. Some people create false statements through their room, thus talking face to face with them will give you valid answers and real emotion straightaway. Perhaps you may find some hints like stubbed out cigarettes in an ashtray or equipment for smoking but this information cannot explain why they smoke or if they had been influenced in any way. Thus, I feel you cannot determine a person’s motives for smoking by simply snooping around their house as information gathered may not be supported enough.

Observing people smoking could be a method of noticing similarities between smokers. For instance, you may become aware that smokers generally light up in groups thus suggesting that smoking is sociable and beneficial in making new friends. A means of recording this information could be writing a survey for yourself, having a list of possible situations of how people are smoking (smoking in groups, smoking alone, girl smoking, and boy smoking). To gather more blunt results go out at night and record how many people stand outside pubs and clubs, determine how many people are smoking by themselves to people who are smoking in groups. You may notice a huge difference between the two. At the end of the experiment you could see what situation was most common in how people smoke, thus implying that perhaps this is a reason why people smoke. This message of ‘smoking is beneficial in making friends’ creates a positive image in young people’s brains. Adolescents crave the idea of fitting in, being accepted, and being part of the ‘cool’ group but why is smoking perceived as ‘cool’? I have read many articles arguing this issue and many of them utter the same reasons. One study conducted by E. J. Salber, B. Welsh, and S. V. Taylor in November, 1959 to students in the public high schools of Newton, Massachusetts demonstrated that ‘conformity to peer group’ was by far the commonest reason as to why young people smoke. Conformity meaning compliance in actions or behaviour: ‘“to follow the crowd”, “because it’s fashionable”, “to be one of the gang”’. These statements are echoed among young people today and consequently emphasising the idea of ‘sociability and cigarette’: perhaps the main attraction and cause for young people smoking. In Semester 1, we discussed how cigarettes are well designed: they have been cleverly advertised; conveyed as elegant, sociable and sophisticated; they are sticky. The tobacco industry has lied to customers by portraying positive images of smoking and not showing adverse side effects. How can adverts communicate to young people more effectively? Instead of advertising how bad smoking is for your health, perhaps we should almost embarrass young people’s actions: that they copy and are influenced by their friends smoking rather than their parents as motives are more powerful than actual behaviour.

An assignment called ‘What Images Mean’, Semester 2, involved giving a person three photographs and asking them to create a brief story using those photos. I consider this a beneficial technique because you can learn how adolescents think and perceive images. In a case for smoking, you could give an adolescent two photographs: one of someone with a cigarette, the other without. Ask them to perhaps describe the person in each photo, you may notice a difference in the attitudes. It is likely the person holding the cigarette will be portrayed by youth as sexy, cool and sociable suggesting how wrong the image for a smoking has become. Ask the adolescent to create a story using the person smoking linked with two other photographs and then another with the person not smoking. Is there a distinct dissimilarity between the two stories described? This method of asking young people to tell a story using images of smoking and non-smoking is an effective technique because it can show that tobacco use has been portrayed to young people as a positive activity, not a deathly cancerous addiction.

I believe a good method in receiving truthful views, reasons, and suggestions are from interviewing young smokers, discontinuous smokers and non-smokers. Interviews would be a good technique because you can ask questions to people who have actually experienced smoking in youth culture and get real explanations as to what influenced them to smoke. A documentary film ‘Scene Smoking: Cigarettes, Cinema, & the Myth of Cool’ by Terry Moloney talks about smoking in films and how it possibly has an effect on youth today. Films including tobacco use are portraying the complete wrong idea to young people, that smoking is a popular, sultry, socially seductive, and normal behaviour. When have you ever seen a film with someone dying of a smoking-related disease? This normalising of smoking can increase the chance of young people to light up because they will perceive the cigarette as being safe and ordinary: “The more young people are exposed to smoking images, the more it normalises the behaviour to them”, Alisa Lyons, UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies. Perhaps when interviewing people you could ask questions related to film: “are you influenced to smoke by your favourite movie star or celebrity?”, “do you believe that what people see in films influence their behaviour?”, “what is your view of tobacco use in movies?” In addition, asking them what their favourite film could reveal why they smoke, for instance, ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’, there are numerous scenes of Bridget smoking which conveys images into adolescent’s minds. What surprises me is this film was in fact rated for children aged 15 – could this be a reason why smoking is attracting today’s youth? After reading an article from The Sunday Times Online: ‘Smoking kills? Yaay, that’s so cool, say teens’ my thoughts turn to warning labels and anti-smoking adverts: have these messages caused young people to rebel? I am beginning to believe that young people are starting to light up because it activates a rebellious side to them. Thus, questions about anti-smoking messages could be asked: “do warning labels on cigarette packets affect your smoking habits?”, “do you think young people smoke because they want to rebel?” Another way of obtaining different suggestions is by interviewing health professionals or tobacco sellers. Asking salesmen, “how do you think young people get hold of cigarettes these days?” and “what ways are there to combat this problem?” Therefore, I think interviewing young people, health professionals and tobacco sellers is an effective method in obtaining genuine thoughts, suggestions and reasons in youth smoking.


I think this research should be carried out when the town, schools, and universities are busy, thus, during term time when all the students are back from holiday. This allows you to have more young people to interview and carry out research on. All the experiments will most likely need about six months to finalise as after every process you would need to write brief summaries of what was said by students, conclude surveys, discuss results and thoughts from other fellow research partners, and analyse results from all investigations. I believe working with others would be greatly beneficial because there would be different opinions, varied thoughts and additional results, therefore, the overall research would be more accurate.


I feel observing, analysing and interviewing smokers, discontinuous smokers, and non-smokers would be a beneficial way of helping to determine the reasons for young people to light up. Seeing smokers in action can help reveal the attractions of why adolescents want to smoke: because it looks sociable and helps in meeting new people; asking youth to analyse photographs of smoking and non-smoking can determine their views on tobacco use – whether it is seen as a positive activity; and the most effective method, interviewing can provide researchers with honest, varied and truthful reasons for smoking.


Bee, P., (May 10, 2010) ‘Smoking kills? Yaay, that’s so cool, say teens’, The Sunday Times

Gladwell, M. (2000) The Tipping Point, Great Britain: Little, Brown.

Lyons, A., (Cited by Bee, P., 2010) UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, ‘Smoking kills? Yaay, that’s so cool, say teens’, The Sunday Times

‘Scene Smoking: Cigarettes, Cinema, & the Myth of Cool: Smoking in Film and Television’ (April 2001) Moloney, T., USA [documentary]

Salber, E. J., Taylor, S. V., and Welsh, B (June 1972) ‘Reasons for Smoking Given By Secondary School Children’, Journal of Health and Human Behaviour, Vol. 4, No. 2, pp. 118-129


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Summer Reading and Other Plans

Now it’s time to plan for summer. For I will read 5 books as a result of Design Studies and explain why, identify 5 things I will do to my blog over the summer and when, and lastly, identify 5 people I will connect to.


The 5 books I will read are:

  • ‘Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking’ by Malcolm Gladwell

I enjoyed reading Gladwell’s ‘Tipping Point’ and liked the way it was written, hopefully this book will help me in making decisions in my chosen discipline.

  • ‘Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things’ by William McDonough and Michael Braungart

This book deals with the topic of recycling which I am interested in. I would like to take this into consideration when making jewellery and help minimise waste in the process (chemicals when etching/discarding of metals).

  • ‘In The Bubble: Designing in a Complex World’ by John Thackara

From reading the summary of this book, I can see it talks about how people have lost sight of what stuff is for. It focusses on services and people instead of relying of technology, thus, may spark inspiration and where to go with my work.

  • ‘Persuasion: The Art of Influencing People’ by James Borg

Throughout Design Studies, we have been assigned tasks which involve sociology and people, for jewellery, this book should aid in talking to possible clients and persuading them or even persuading people to employ you.

  • ‘Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Take Hold and Others Come Unstuck’ by Dan Heath and Chip Heath

Design is only successful when people actually by your products. Perhaps this book will help me with designing jewellery which will sell and how to create good design.


So, now turning my attention to blogging. What ways are there to improve my blog? What else can I do to my blog to make it more attractive? How can I get my blog read by more people? Here are 5 things I attempt to do to my blog:

  • Comment and read more of other peoples blogs which may help in increasing popularity of my own.
  • Consider utilising other widgets and plug-ins to make my blog look more sophisticated and mature.
  • Possibly create a timetable of blogging minimum 3 times a week about things I have seen/read to get me into the rhythm of things and improve my blogging.
  • Link my twitter page to my blog page to increase popularity.
  • Add a delicious widget to show viewers my interests.


5 people I have decided to connect with over the summer are:

  • Liza Maclean a lady who is design-business related.
  • Kate Pickering through Vanilla Ink who has had jewellery design experience.
  • Patricia Lip, a girl of different ethnicity.
  • I am particularly excited to connect with 2 jewellers who I have not spoken to before because it will be a new experience and mature.

Hopefully this means of connecting with fellow design students will improve my skills in talking to people through the web which will help for future job employment and connections. All very exciting, bring on the sun!

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Addicted to Video Games

I watched a really interesting documentary about video game addiction. Why is it so addictive? What could possibly strive someone to play for hours? How much is too much?

Video Game Addiction

Have you ever even heard of this addiction? Ever thought it was real? Recently I have seen a very interesting Panorama documentary ‘Addicted to Games?’ which investigated youngsters obsessive playing of games, described as an addiction. There was one specific story which stood out the most where 3-month-old baby starved to death whilst their parents are obsessively raising a virtual child online. Last September after a long 12-hour online period the parents returned home to find their daughter dead: http: Korean Girl Starved Online

Symptoms of game addiction are:

  • Feeling irritable, angry and restless when you are not playing video games.
  • Obsessively thinking about video/PC games and playing them whilst doing something else.
  • Spending more and more time playing video games but at the same time feeling extreme guilt.
  • You would rather play games than spend times hanging out with friends.
  • Lying about how long you play video games.

You can even experience physical symptoms like:

  • Migraines – due to the intense concentration needed to play video games one may get painful headaches.
  • Sleep Disorders – may be caused by one thinking about the game constantly thus finding it difficult to sleep, also may be because your brain is being overstimulated.
  • Sore Back – As you play video games one will tend to sit for hours on end in the same position. This is the most common symptom within game users.
  • Eating Problems – One may simply forget to eat because they are so zoned in on the game, they may not want to eat because they don’t want to waste time.
  • Carpel Tunnel Syndrome – caused when the main nerve between the forearm and hand is squeezed or pressed, thus the wrist may become swollen and sore.

We spend over 3 billion pounds on gaming, World of Warcraft has sold more than 12 million worldwide and is the most successful game ever made. Players say that they can begin to substitute the real world with the game world in which they play, thus can have a derogatory effect on your life as it can cause you to lose friends due to the isolation.

“This game is a disease”

–   Leo, 20, Panorama Documentary

Robbie Cooper is a video artist who is interested in facial expressions children make whilst playing video games and watching television. The difference between children watching television to the children playing video games is video games pull you in so much quicker. There was one child who actually did not blink at all because he was so engrossed in the game, thus, caused the loss of his blink reflexes. Personally, Cooper’s outcome is quite disturbing as it conveys how gaming has become such a powerful form of entertainment and how immersed people can get – even to the point of forgetting to blink.

Overall, I think game addiction is so addictive simply due to their design. Whilst playing computer games I feel a great sense of achievement when I gain a point or a ‘new life’, and it is these small wins that keep me hooked to the game. Makes me think ‘I can get further’. Casino gambling acquires a similar tactic, small wins of money keeps them playing. This simple idea of new lives can keep me playing video games for hours without even realising. I am grateful that my parents did not allow me to have a Playstation or else I would probably never see them, thus, believe parents should become more aware of this addiction and consider the effects when buying computer games for their child.

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What Influences People?

In our lecture on Friday we discussed people’s tastes, fashion, and how or what had influenced them. I think it was a very entertaining and interactive lecture. For example, the lecturer asked the audience “stand up if you are wearing a hoodie” (I stood) the lecturer then said “do you notice anything?” and yes I realised as I turned (as I was sitting at the front) that there were people in hoodies all clumped together. Why was this? Perhaps because they were all in the same discipline (I think it was interactive media design) So does this mean that people who are in same courses or live together begin dressing similar to one another? Maybe so. The lecturer then asked “if you are wearing a scarf please stand” (I stood) and funnily enough, people wearing scarves were all clumped together (mostly girls), and generally girls in Textiles, perhaps they worked with a lot of fabric.

We then reviewed our small experiment with a series of questions to consider:

  • Where do your opinions of what’s good come from

For me, I think most of my opinions come from mainly my family as they are all such strong characters who I admire.

  • Have you ever told someone else who/what they should like?

I don’t think I have told someone what they should like but perhaps I have introduced new things to people, therefore may be similar to making them like what I like.

  • How influential have friends, family and teachers been on your tastes?

I think my influences have come from family and friends very much so. I have noticed when I moved to Dundee my style in clothing has changed dramatically.

  • If a famous designer contradicted me, who would you side with?

I believe that I will stay with my own opinion and not follow others contradictions.

  • Is taste in-built or is it acquired from the environment around you?

I believe, in general, that taste comes from the environment around you, like hanging with your friends and class etc.

  • Is good taste genetic? Or the result of your upbringing?

I think good taste is a result of your upbringing, for instance, you have suffered from depression you may dress gothic-like, and if you feel happy you may dress colourful.

  • Do you think you have good taste?

Errrrr… I think I have good taste but sometimes I feel embarrassed when I tell somebody what I like in case they think it is uncool or something. Does that mean I don’t think I have good taste?

We then carried out another small experiment by everyone writing down their top 5 favourite movies, classic composers, song artists and designers/illustrators. After a few minutes, we (the audience) decided which were our top 5 on each topic.

From the results, we talked over how we came to the conclusion of each topic. Possibly a song reminds you of a good moment in your life; maybe you just liked the actors in the film. It can really vary on why a film or song is your favourite.

Thus, we have learnt that people who dress alike usually group together and your favourite films/songs etc can depend on emotional feelings or memories – certain things can mean more to you others.

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