For hundreds of years people have placed some message in the type of clothing they wore. Long ago people wanted to be different from other people by altering their clothing. Some examples of “standing out” became very popular and many people followed. This was the moment when fashion appeared. Clothing is basically a covering designed to be worn on a person’s body and it is a necessity that is resolved by the norms of social conduct. This “necessity” brings a lot of variety into the lives of people and makes their image more integrated. It is not about people serving fashion; it is about fashion being a slave of people.
Is Fashion as Communication for Both Men and Women Associated with Their Identity?
Nowadays, fashion is sometimes defined as a constantly changing trend, rather than practical or logical reasons. Nevertheless, at the present moment fashion has a profound influence on the life of people. Clothing has turned into a self-realization of every person. It is no longer just an “external screen” more than that it may cause losing a very important physical, psychological and social aspect of a person’s life. The type of clothing fully depends on the person who is wearing it; therefore it becomes a reflection of his perception of himself, which causes us to the term – personal identity.
The choice of clothing and accessories is as critical as identification through the color of hair, height, skin and gender. In addition, clothing is a media of information about the person wearing it. It is a cipher; a code that needs a decryption in order to understand what kind of person is underneath it. (Barnard 2002). As every cloth contains a strong message about its owner and it depends on his mindset or today’s mood. Therefore, the clothing of a person is the way of telling people about the “state” and the “status” of it owner. Impact on Outer Perception
Clothes have a tremendous impact on the perception of people around and on the perception of the person wearing them. A suit can make a person feel more confident and organized, which would eventually transform the attitude and the manner of talking of the person. For instance, wearing jeans after a suit may change the conduct of a person to a very lax and liberal one. Fashion is one of the most powerful means of communication, which it especially involves the cases of getting an ideal job. Therefore fashion may not only carry a message, it can also create a “false-message” during a situation needed. This can be proved by analyzing the reaction of the people on the street on people wearing different types of clothing. The preference is always given to people dressed in “business style”, personifying their dignity and seriousness in everything. This is one of the primary reasons that even the smallest companies make wearing a suit one of their requirements for their employees.
The customers feel more confident in such “consultants”. So, fashion is a very keen tool of communication while interpretation on social class, culture, sex and gender relations of people. Women and Clothing Women, have a great impact on the development of fashion worldwide. Of course one of the major messages on behalf of clothes is the social message. Women throughout the time have tried to make the clothing look more magnificent. It is very easily to track down Diana Crane and her family. Nowadays clothing is not a characteristic of belonging to a clan, or to an upper social class though it still can inform a lot about the financial status of a person. A person, especially a woman is always dressed up according to competitive strength.
Therefore women may lead intense ambition by knowing the expectations of the “opponent”. Historically, women wore traditional dresses, which represented their cultural, social status and womanliness, omitting manlike forms of dressing. It is “the old fashion game” between merchants and royal family served by civilian. As for now, fashionable clothing has made a great “kick” to traditional clothing. Women become less lady-stylish but more aggressive and professional. Women have accepted a lot of clothing styles that a force able to contend male and to compete with them. Of course there still are women that are the tenderness activists and femininity retaining women’s sexuality but business and politics has transformed the image of a woman greatly in equality at work.
Men and Fashion
Throughout the history starting with the Middle Ages men’s fashion has changed a lot. If the era of Renaissance was characterized by increased femininity in men’s clothes, the end of the twentieth century became the moment of maximal revealing of masculinity for men. Nowadays, identity has brought a lot of specific changes in the perception of a contemporary man. An open manifestation of sexual orientation has brought the image of a feminine man into fashion. The adaptation of feminine tendencies into men’s fashion is transparent. Men tend to choose practical clothes as casual clothing and suits as their “working uniform”[Hollander 43]. The whole image of a man is not brusque and rough anymore. It has become more flexible and soft.
The construction of a man’s wardrobe starts with choosing from the variety of images offered by culture and class today. The gender boundary is gradually “wiped” off. Nevertheless, clothing remains the primary criterion of the evaluation of the opposite sex. While being very liberate towards the type of clothing of other men, they demonstrate especial criticism towards women’s clothing. This happens due to the variety and abundance of women around. Analyzing men’s fashion is like dealing with a complexity. This complexity is constantly changing and adjusting to the surrounding of tendencies.
Culture and Fashion
As every person belongs to a definite culture and has the right to reveal it, personal identity may sometimes be replaced by cultural identity. Cultural identity is the type of identity that is related to a certain culture or a separate group. It brings people belonging to a culture definite highlighting differences with other people. Clothing in terms of culture is to reveal either the historical roots of a person or the roots the group he belongs to. The oriental-followers are easily defined from the crowd by the specific collars and style of dressing they hold on to. Demonstrating a belonging to a certain cultural community is the free right of every person like people that freely declare who they are going to vote for. Talking about culture it is possible to mention that nowadays exists “material culture” that dictates its own ways and code of dressing [Crane 51]. The liberation of culture off the borders made the cultural fashion developments increase dramatically. The “freedom of word” has found a place in every single cultural attribute nowadays.
Wearing a cowboy hat may not be a sign of being from Texas, but a sign of political preference. For instance it is very easy to distinguish a European from a Hindu by the style of dressing or an Indian woman from an oriental woman by the distinctive spot on the forehead of an Indian woman and a veil worn by Moslem woman. Fashion has taken the best part of the traditional costumes of every culture and sometimes this leads to propagandizing a definite cultural group. For instance, the brightest example is the increasing interest towards the Moslems and oriental culture nowadays. Conclusion Fashion and identity are inseparable companions. Fashion with all its symbolism and attributes form an outstanding base for personal and cultural identification.
Identity is a necessary process of a healthy personality as it is a part of self-realization of a person that is so much required for finding a place in life of every person. Fashion has become a tool for achieving harmony with the inner world and a way of revealing or concealing peculiarities. Fashion possesses a specific meaning and the more diverse is the society around us the more fashion-trend will appear and surprise us. As long as it does not hurt people around fashion symbols are acceptable, nevertheless while thinking about fashion and identity it is necessary to remember the ethical side of the issue. Fashion and identity through it still remains a twofold issue but there are a lot of positive aspects one can enjoy and share with other people.References