Ever since the mankind acquired the ability to think and plan ahead, it has been curious to know what the future holds. In order to assuage this deep hunger to know ahead, humans developed various forms of divination, many of which like palmistry or astrology continue to be practiced but most of which have been lost to obscurity and one example of the latter kind is Stolisomancy.
Stolisomancy is a method of divining the future based on person’s clothing or his/her general style of dressing. The etymological origins of the term go back to ancient Greek according to stolis means garment while and manteia refers to prophecy.
Ancient cultures believed that the way in which certain articles of clothing were put on or worn by an individual determines or produces certain events affecting the wearer and this belief formed the principle of stolisomancy. One of the most quoted examples of stolisomancy comes from ancient Greece when Imperator Augustus believed that a military revolt was predicted on the morning of its occurrence by the fact that his valet had buckled his right sandal to his left foot.
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While stolisomancy may have originated with the intention of predicting important occurrences, over time it became applicable to an individual’s destiny. According to one such interpretation, if a person accidentally wore a shirt inside out, it was thought he/she would suffer from bad luck throughout the day. However putting on a dress the wrong way was said to imply that very soon the wearer would get a new dress or someone would present him/her with a gift. Eventually many of the beliefs in stolisomancy came to form part of folklore of a region. Thus in some cultures, if a person’s right shoelace came undone, it was believed that someone familiar was speaking kindly of him/her. However if the same happened with the left shoelace, it was thought that the person was being criticized behind his/her back.
Stolisomancy in modern times is no longer practiced as a way of foreseeing the future in the life of an individual. However another meaning of divination is revealing hidden knowledge or ‘divining’ the truth and this is usually applied in the context of character divination. In this sense thus, stolisomancy can still said to be relevant in these times. There are several accounts in the electronic and popular media of someone’s style of dressing reflecting his/her inner personality. Thus for instance men who prefer severely tailored clothing and classic styles are supposed to be traditional, dependable and desire to be in control of their lives. On the other hand a more eclectic personal style is believed to indicate a more adventurous, spontaneous and flexible personality. In case of women, those who prefer clothes with rounded lines and dresses which have flowing shapes and waistlines are supposed to be romantics at heart while those going for a lot of lace, frills and small jewelry are believed to be more feminine in nature. Colors form yet another aspect of this popular notion according to which a particular style of dressing is expressive of a personality type. People who prefer colors like red and gold are supposed to be bold, dramatic and ostentatious; blue is believed to indicate conservativeness while a preference for grey and brown is typical of people who wish to blend in. In this way the modern philosophy of character dressing may be considered a throwback to the older practice of stolisomancy.