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What Is Fashion? Essay

An in depth discussion about fashion, its influence towards society and primarily causes responsible for these processes This essay offers a sociological approach towards fashion in which will be critically evaluated, in context of its influence on society, origins of fashion and whether external or/and internal causes are responsible for these processes. This essay begins with an introduction to fashion in a social aspect.

According to Kumara (2005) the meaning of fashion is not Just about visual clothing but also the invisible elements behind it such as symbolic meanings and a sense of competition. Fashion is a trend of imitating those whom is admired and envied however fashion is never stationary or fixed, it is ever-changing but does not mean the old is discarded Just may be merely adjusted (Flues, 1930). Rubberiest (2001) argues that a style becomes a fashion through a process called “collective selection” the fashion is then imitated.

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This essay then goes into the history of fashion, what fashion was like before twenty first century, what the clothing meant to different social classes, with this it will explain how fashion was exposed to other social classes not Just the aristocrats. It is then followed by an evaluation of the importance of fashion in general for society then briefly mentions about the fashion values for boys and girls, men and women.

Finally, concluding this essay with a summary of possible internal and/or external causes of the processes for fashion. One definition for fashion is the mass production of goods for adornment in which are imitated from people that are admired and envied however this is more of a modern phenomenon (Edwards, 1997; Flues, 1930). The definition for fashion will never be stationary therefore it is conceived as irrational because it has no content, arks as an external decoration, and carries no intellectual elements (Kumara, 2005).

According to Kumara (2005) and Flues (1930) fashion is a concept of imitation, it is a fundamental human trait to imitate those who are admired or envied (e. G. Celebrities), and however Herbert Bubbler argued that a style becomes a fashion through the process of “collective selection” (as cited in Rubberiest, 2003 peg. 14). For example a designer offers a large number of styles on the runway; only a few of these are chosen by buyers, magazine editors, and boutique owners which are then offered to their clients.

When consumers actually buy the clothes, those styles become the fashion; consumer relevance, not the designer’s, turns a style into fashion (Rubberiest, 2001). In other words those who are admired get their styles from boutiques where the designers had offered their styles beforehand therefore consumers buys the selected styles of their choice and those styles then becomes the fashion – the style becomes a fashion quicker when the buyer is one an admired or envied person.

Thus before something becomes a fashion it goes through the process of collective selection then becomes the fashion object for people to imitate. However the paradox of fashion is that everyone is trying at the same time to be like but yet different, from the person they admire or new – to be like them in so far as they regards them as superiors, to be unlike them (in the sense of being more fashionable’) (Flues, 1930).

Another essential concept of fashion lies in competition – decoration has a sexual and social value, attractive, and striking forms of ornaments being useful both for purposes of sexual allurement and as signs of rank, wealth, or power – following the convention that the more elaborate and decorative the costume, the higher the social position of the wearer however this was a fashion phenomenon before the nineteenth century (Flues, 1930; Kumara, 2005).

In contrast the bohemian fashion sense was less is more thus individuals tend to wear clothing that is simple and has a relaxing feel to it but yet contemporary. The Bohemian style applies to those who live an unconventional and artistic lifestyle thus it was stereotyped to those in the middle class and underclass (Wilson, 2000). However it was at a conference when Richard Florida made a speech about high tech Coos to discover that the bohemian style was not only for those of the middle class and under class people: muff can’t have high tech innovation without art and music.

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All forms of creativity feed off each other… Elf you really want to know how important this is don’t ask the high tech Coos or the mayor or the Chamber of Commerce. Ask the guys in the band! “… The musicians who looked like members of Cowan O’Brien late-night ensemble… Were not local grunge’s. They were high-tech Coos and venture capitalists” (Florida, 2003 peg. 191) The purpose of this quote was to show that mom high classed individuals do not dress extravagantly as to show off their wealth, it is quite the opposite.

Also it illustrates that the bohemian style has grown and expanded throughout all levels of the social classes. Before the nineteenth century fashion was only available for those with status such as the aristocrats, as mentioned before the more extravagant the clothing the higher the social position, this mainly occurred before the nineteenth century. Fashion in the fifteenth century is something different from fashion in the nineteenth and twentieth century.

In the fifteenth century fashion was an indicator of class status, a court privilege monopolized by aristocracy while commoners would hardly dare call themselves fashionable because they will be frowned upon because they had no rights to be dressed as them, they are unwilling to abandon the signs of superiority and distinctiveness (Flues, 1930; Rubberiest, 2001). The extravagance of fashion in this case meaner higher social status therefore it is part of the individual’s identity; the type of fashion people wore during these times distinguished the nobles from the commoners (Kumara, 2005).

Flues (1930) mentions that when every man is as good as his fellows, there are no superior social strata left to imitate, and it would seem as though the race of fashion must end, since those behind have definitely caught up those in front. However in the nineteenth century no longer did the aristocracy alone lead fashion, but the wealthy that had the material meaner were invading into their social place therefore fashion became more available (Heywood ; Garcia, 2012; Flues, 1930; Rubberiest, 2001).

By the twentieth century, fashion became increasingly democratic, and everyone, regardless of rank or status, had a eight to look fashionable (Heywood ; Garcia, 2012). With the naturalism that followed the French Revolution, the body once more came into its own rights, and the purpose of clothes became the relatively secondary one of throwing into relief the beauties of the body – fashion became more simple and exiguous, the exposure of the bohemian style (Flues, 1930).

Therefore the idea of the more extravagant clothing the higher social status slowly diminished; the fashion trend changed and became available to the whole society and not Just the aristocrats. Thus fashion now plays a significant role in the manifestation of differences. The class boundary has become blurry since the decline of European aristocrats, and people desired to make subtle distinctions in order to differentiate themselves from others (Kumara, 2005). This is the modernity of fashion.

Fashion is more than Just visual clothing and accessories but also act an indicator of social status or rank, personality or identity; it is also symbolic, expressive, creative, and coercive (Heywood ; Garcia, 2012; Kumara, 2005; Edwards, 1997). According to Flues (1930) fashion is symbolic; it can be presented as trophies (e. G. Hunter wears rare fox belt), terrorizing (consisting of parts of the fallen enemies which can be perceived as awe-inspiring and gruesome), sign of rank and/or occupation, sign of locality or nationality, display of wealth and extension of the bodily self (e. . A skirt can increase the feeling of size, importance, and beauty or how some skirts may add to the effect of movement). Fashion is more concerned with theories between people beyond kin, and the mechanisms through which we form affiliations and select partners with whom to co-operate with (Heywood ; Garcia, 2003). There are two aspects in particular contribute to individual’s interaction preferences, and they unconsciously look for cues that signal trustworthiness and cooperation; fashion happens to be one of those cues (Heywood & Garcia, 2003).

Therefore it is from their clothes that whether individuals form a good or bad first impression and this is very important especially when going for a job interview or meeting someone you like because people will Judge at first sight hence a good fashion sense can be essential. Indirect expression of an individual through his garments enables us to Judge whether or not this acquaintance is reindeer, angry, frightened, curious, hurried or at ease. It also tells something about their sex, occupation, nationality, and social standing, and thus enabling us to make preliminary adjustment of our behavior towards them (Flues, 1930).

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For example two guys came up to a girl and both ask for her number, one guy in a messy shirt and ripped pants while the other in a decent shirt and Shares, the girl will most likely be more inclined to give the guy with decent clothes her number because he seems more trustworthy. However familiarity cause them to be overlooked, in other words his does not apply to those that individuals become familiar with because they have already been accepted into the group (Flues, 1930; Kumara 2005).

According to Kumara (2005), Heywood and Garcia (2012) fashion is simultaneously about belonging into a group and innovating – distinguishing and identifying oneself; it helps us signal group conformity, the innate, evolutionarily based need to fit in with the group; and it is about sex and status in that it increases our “mate value”. Fashion is the result of a great deal of influence which collectively determines the social Truckee of society. Fashion values differ within gender and females happens to be more intact with fashion than males however it does not mean that men do not.

On the female side (women), use fashionable products to enhance or create an illusion of youth, beauty and fertility, and on the male (men) side, to display wealth and status (Heywood & Garcia, 2003). It has been stereotyped that fashion for men does not exist that men dress for comfort rather than style; that women dress men and buy clothes for men, nevertheless fashion for men is not taken seriously because t is not appropriately ‘masculine’ to take a serious interest in it but they are well dressed for their occupation (Edwards, 1997).

Fashion for women is a source of power that can be controlled by using fashion as a tool women shifted from nature to culture, focusing on beauty (Kumara, 2005). Fashion is not only stereotypically positively correlated with feminism but also somewhat true due to women constantly striving to achieve youth and beauty however fashion is where identities can be discovered, and fashion plays no role in the oppression of women or exclusion of men (Kumara, 2005). As Wilson explains: … N ‘administrating the wearer’s spectacular identity contemporary fashion refuses the dichotomy nature/culture.

Fashion in our epoch administrates the body and thus divests itself of all essentialist. This must be good news for women since essentialist ideologies have been oppressive to them. Fashion often plays with, and playfully transgresses gender boundaries, inverting stereotypes and making us of the masque of femininity. (Wilson, 1994, up. 187) However for the younger generation of females (girls) and males (boys) the impact of fashion is slightly different; for girls styles of dress are accessory for the accomplishment of social status, of irreconcilability, of a position in the world that saves one from being cast out (Pomeranian,2008).

For both girls and boys being unfashionable or out dated can have a negative effect on individuals for they can become the target for bullies hence fashion in this sense is important it determines whether one is in the group or out the group (Pomeranian, 2008). However a particular fashion trend is not for everyone as in not everyone can ‘own it’, in other words not everyone will suit every fashion trend, and therefore if he or she does not own’ the look then others will end up labeling him or her as a try hard’ and become out castes (Pomeranian, 2008).

Overall fashion has drastically changed since the fifteenth century, from fashion being only available to aristocrats to fashion being mass produced for everyone that can afford it. An external cause for this change would be when the French exposed the style of bohemianism and the internal cause is that not only nobles and aristocrats have access to the fashion but also those who are wealthy thus making fashion more accessible to the public, the French Revolution accelerated this process.

This continued until fashion became entirely exposed to the public and every one now has the right to be fashionable, fashion is then mass produced due to the increase of demands. This then became a modern internal cause for fashion is that people wants to discover, identify and distinguish themselves yet feel like they belong therefore they imitate those they new or admire and try to become part of the ‘in group’ to not feel out castes. Since fashion has become democratic there is now more competition for fashion nowadays. References Edwards T. 1997, Men in the mirror: men’s fashion, masculinity and consumer society,

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