Fashion is an expression of who you are.
Importance of Fashion
Perhaps the generations before the baby boomers won’t understand why us, the generation X, are so obsessed with fashion. Even for baby boomers, some fashion trends may seem a little too exaggerated and they may not be able to comprehend them. But for me and others in this generation (generation-Y), fashion is not just a style of dressing, fashion is an art; a way to express ones views on world happenings, politics and other social events.
I consider myself one lucky person for having interacted with fashion at a very early age. Or perhaps it is more proper for me to say I’m lucky because I was brought up with a mother who valued fashion. She implemented fashion in its entirety; color, volume, and material. She taught me to define fashion as an art and to use it to address my emotions, senses and intellect.
My mother developed in me some kind of inner obsession that not only got me obsessed with my look and fashion style, but also that of others. From my first years of life, my mom dressed me in the morning with the intention of “selling”. In fact I started being conscious of how I was dressed and only wanted clothes that would please my friends. Like my mother, fashion inspires me and creates a unique atmosphere that heavily impacts on my state of mind.
Many people ask me, is this the secret of its importance? If fashion can directly impact on someone’s mind, does it then mean that one can use fashion as a way of life? It’s impossible not to create a great deal of importance on adornment and clothing because of the nature of today’s world. Does the world not judge us based on our appearance? People judge our potential and abilities based on how we look. This is not really so much of a new phenomenon as it is a purely contemporary approach.
Mankind has always been obsessed with dressing style and people’s opinions. Remember how Adam and Eve of the Bible narrative sew ‘beautiful’ clothes made of leaves? I’m not sure up to today if the pictures of what we see are really how the clothes they sew looked like. But if they are, I could almost bet you that at one time someone artistic will revive back those fashion styles. I suppose it’s Eve, who did most of the designing for the clothes, I may be wrong. What I find rather paradoxical is the fact that the drawings of the clothes that the first man and woman in one of the most famous narratives of all times appear to have some sense of fashion consideration.
But back to history and fashion. One of the earliest indicators that mankind was always obsessed with fashion is the tombs of the Egyptian kings. The fact that there is evidence of the tombs being found filled with ceremonial jewels and clothes show that our concern for appearance is millennial.
Garments essentially act as our second skin; it is a part of us. It is naked that a child comes into the world and it is the clothing that plunges him or her into humanity. Therefore in growing up, a child’s body becomes a fashion body; an object of desire. The truest definition of fashion is the fantasy, the symbol, the imagination and all of these factions that embody fashion and that are consumed by the image. Fashion tends to plunge us into dreams when the clothes we wear meet out pragmatic need; that is warmth, comfort and protection.
But fashion doesn’t simply express our mood; it also reveals who we are through our choices and our clothing habits. Growing up, I realized that fashion was the tacit expression of my identity, which was reflected in the reaction, good or bad, of the gaze of others. The clothes I wore therefore marked some sort of social anticipation for me. Although I tend to dress as I like and in my taste and style, I also use clothes as a source of pride that plummets me into the search for authenticity for my true self.
Fashion is perhaps not just a form of art but a social marker that makes it possible for us to claim our singularity. It helps us achieve our inner longing to distinguish ourselves from the different social groups that we belong to while at the same time still making it possible for us to display our belonging to the same groups. As a teenager, fashion can serve two purposes; one is to mark our opposition and distance ourselves from others who we feel don’t understand us. The other is to get closer to others to form groupings or pairs of those that we believe are like us.
The transition to adulthood does not in any way eliminate the need to dress in a ‘sell’ attitude. Society creates so much expectation for different social groups to have a fashion bearing. Clothes define who you are from the social institutions to the church to even work places. Certain professions like modeling of course place higher expectations for people to clearly define their fashion sense as opposed to more subtle professions like teaching. Although you cannot entirely disregard the desire for some sort of fashion sense even in careers that are not in the showbiz business.
As an adult, I long ago came to the realization that there are some fashion lenses through which society will always look at me. Nothing pleases me more than to know that I pass the fashion bars set for me when judged through the mirror of everyday life. I pride myself in a beautiful wardrobe, which to me is anybody’s assurance for their capability to respond to the mood of life. A person’s wardrobe, in my opinion, is what gives them confidence in their personal and professional relationships and a guide to how they are valued by others in the society.
Even for people who swear that they’re not into fashion, and even those who are not aware of it, fashion is a phenomenon of the contemporary society that is difficult to disregard. The truth is that most people who argue against fashion are looking at the topic from ‘a half glass empty’ kind of reasoning. Fashion is not intended to fulfill or complete a person, a person is meant to blend into fashion that they feel makes them at home.
The law of fashion also states that trends are subject to change. But this is no surprise since change is the only permanent thing in this world anyway. Change is actually what makes the adrenaline rise when fashionistas discuss fashion. In the fashion world, following ‘what people are wearing’ is not only challenging, it’s also confusing because changes are made in the blink of an eye. Fashion icons can make you feel like a puppet if you decide to emulate their fashion. How is one able to change from glamorous to casual and then to a beautiful bizarre at any given day in a week?
Society has relied so much on fashion that it has idolized it. And since our society is metamorphosing into a fake one, fashion trends also embrace our fakeness. We have manipulated fashion to be able to cover for our imperfections and our sadness. It’s not any news to see fashionistas like Paris Hilton wearing designer jeans or some trendy dress while rumors are already flying that they have just broken up with their significant other.
More not-so-a-surprise is that fact that the world (read: news reporters) will choose to divert the attention from her sadness to how she dressed up to the ‘occasion’; how she perfected the art of hiding her sadness inside her fashion.
For me fashion is not just what runway models are wearing; fashion is the moral dress code for nursing students, the dress expectations for teachers, the ideal dress code for practicing doctors. But if you would rather put all the load of fashion on the catwalk models, then you may ask, who exactly sets or starts these fashion trends?
Slippery fashion trends are set by influential people in the society like actors and actresses, athletes, rock starts, and designers. It’s really not that these people select their clothing and look in the mirror thinking ‘hey let me go out today in this and have everyone emulate it’. No that’s not how it works. Groups or individuals will choose to or will subconsciously pick up the dressing styles they feel communicate the message they believe in.
Then there is the popularity contest that will perhaps reign till kingdom come. This is what drives the need for certain people in society (we can call them fashion moguls) to scrutinize certain facets of fashion like material, color and method of stitching. Since everyone wants to be ‘popular’, individuals following fashion trends set by these trend setters will go to great lengths to acquire the approved clothing styles.
Fashion trends have for generations dictated how we feel and look, and even more intense, how the society looks at us. There’s no running away from this. Previous generations, with their own fashion styles and tastes, no less fashionable during their time, embraced this fact. So even people in this generation who are disregarding fashion as not important need only to search inside their souls to find their fashion bearing.