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Clothing And The Culture Of Fashion

2036 words - 8 pages

Clothing has always been an important part of society, with evidence from the earliest human civilizations. In history, climate, religion and political factors played a role in the fabrication, styling and even color of the garments that people wore. Today, the fashion industry is multi-faceted, and while climate and religion are still some factors in how we dress, there are many more influences in what we choose to wear. Time and time again, designers reference historical styles and push them into modern trends. Subcultures illustrate how a particular way of dressing can transform into a lifestyle. Ethnic fashion ties in with a specific culture’s values and beliefs. By looking at clothing in other societies around the world, as well as the many global subcultures, we can learn a lot about the depth and complexity of the members that make this world colorful and diverse.
Clothing is something that defines a person, and allows society to have an outlook on an individual’s lifestyle and beliefs. Unlike criticizing other material things like a car, a home or even something as simple as a television set, criticism of clothing is very personal. This suggests that there is a high correlation between clothing and personal identity and values. (Breward, pg.1) Clothing in a sense has the ability to communicate thought. However, similarly to art interpretations, this does not mean that any two people will perceive these visual aesthetics similarly.
Throughout history, women’s clothing was made to accentuate all the feminine qualities of the body, with the main focus on the idea of fertility. In fifteenth century Europe, large, voluminous robes called houppelandes created what was called the “pregnant silhouette,” by adding all of the fullness of the garment to the front of the body. By the mid sixteenth century, Catherine de’ Medici, the wife of Henry II of France banned thicker waists. As a result, corsets were the key undergarments in creating ultra-feminine silhouettes for the next 350 years. By sucking in the waist to extremely tiny proportions, the hips widened, creating an hourglass look. Petticoats were used as undergarments to create fullness in skirts, as well as farthingales (also known as hoop skirts) to accentuate nipped in waists even further. In later years, feminists began rebelling against corsets because of the health problems that resulted in wearing them. In the beginning to the 20th century in the 1920’s, the boyish silhouette was in full swing for women’s fashions. Flapper styles flattered long, lanky figures, as opposed to the curvy S-curved shapes of prior centuries. Hair was cut into short bob styles, and flattened chests were preferred to rounder ones. (Laver, Costume and Fashion…)
There are many factors that contribute to how culture influences fashion in the modern era. Art and popular culture effects what becomes a growing and evolving trend. Andy Warhol’s Factory in the 60’s influenced a pop art...

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