Fashion is a form of personal autonomy and self-expression in a certain time and venue and in a certain context, with certain dress, shoes, body posture, cosmetics, hairstyle, and accessories. In its general usage, the word implies an appearance defined by the fashion market as what is popular at the moment. On the other hand, it can also mean maintaining some standards of what is considered desirable for different times and seasons. It is therefore necessary to be aware of the distinctions between fashion and style. The former pertains to the visual aspect of dressing while the latter refers to the aesthetic quality of the clothes. The former is the realm of personal choices and individuality, while the latter is the commercial framework in which clothes are made to meet current fashion trends.
Fashion, as a discipline, was born out of two related developments. The first one was the development of modern dressing, which came about as the result of the Industrial Revolution in England in the late nineteenth century. The demand for inexpensive clothing caused textile mills to spring up around the country, providing employment to many people who were previously unemployed. The new textile products became the object of desire for fashionable young men and women. This resulted in the first fashion shows organized in public spaces. These were the seeds of the idea of creating a social setting for fashion by introducing it into the public spaces.
A few years later, during the First World War, the soldiers of the British Army found their way to fashionable salons. These salons were liberated from strict dress codes, uniforms, and orders issued by officers. In their stead, they dressed in casual clothing that consisted of light-colored shirts, trousers with slacks or a bit more of both, and breeches. The new fashion was associated with working-class youth and was called the “jungle wear.” This new fashion had become immensely popular among the soldiers and influenced the British Government to introduce rules that required soldiers to wear proper uniform clothing when outside of their houses.
The Second World War brought on yet another major fashion event. This time, clothing was introduced as a “junk” item. Trousers, suits, dresses, skirts, and overalls became acceptable and fashionable for both sexes. This was the period when high fashion began to be associated with wealthier members of society. Many wealthy individuals began to patronize expensive designer clothing.
It is difficult to say how much impact fashion has had on society and our lives today. Certainly, certain areas of the world have always displayed an interest in fashion trends. The ancient Egyptians wore clothing that was similar to the type of clothing worn in Europe during the Renaissance. The Romans were famous for their taste in fashion. In fact, many of the furnishings that the Roman Empire used were decorated with gold and gems. In fact, it was the opulent nature of the Roman fashion that eventually motivated the English to establish a fashion guild.
Today, fashion continues to influence our attitudes and choices regarding clothing. As a result, more people are enjoying the benefits that it brings. Although there are some who decry certain aspects of fashion, it is clear that fashion does bring value to individuals and families. Indeed, fashion seems to be more than just about showing off one’s wealth.