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Science & Environment

Invisibilia: How A Shirt Collar Helped A Man Survive Auschwitz

When you got up this morning, did you dress for the weather? Your wife? Throw on your lucky socks?

NPR's show and podcast Invisibilia has been taking a long look at what we wear — from sunglasses to artist's frocks and hoodies — and asking how much our clothes affect us, sometimes in ways we're not aware of, or might not even like.

There's the tale of tailor Martin Greenfield, who has dressed the last three presidents as well as NBA players and Hollywood stars. But his first realization of how clothes convey power came from a much darker place — the Auschwitz concentration camp. There, Greenfield started wearing a castoff Nazi shirt under his prison uniform. And that white collar somehow preserved his dignity. "I was different," Greenfield says. "I was different all the way through."

We'll also ask whether a man who started wearing sunglasses all the time to fend off high school bullies wound up unintentionally creating a wall between him and his loved ones by still wearing sunglasses decades later.

And we contemplate whether shoes keep us from properly considering the world around us, and each other.

This weekend in NPR's health blog, Shots, we'll explore how cosplayers use elaborate costumes to bring out their hidden strengths and find community. Join us on the air and online!

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.