Fashion Studies Post 1: Christopher Breward’s Aphorisms


Choose any two of Christopher Breward’s aphorisms from his foreword to Fashion Studies, which you read in Week 1. Explain what each of the two aphorisms means (in your own words) and explain why you agree or disagree with them.

A P H O R I S M  # 1

“Fashion is not necessarily spectacular (through it often conforms to the theory of the society of the spectacle), it can also be demotic, ordinary, mundane, routine and humble. It is the stuff of the ethnographer and the anthropologist.”

This phrase means that fashion is not always the glamorous image that is portrayed through the media or the out of the ordinary designs seen on runways. Fashion is also about how the everyday people dress – what they wear in their ordinary, daily routines. Breward says “it is the stuff of the ethnographer” to suggest how fashion is what the people around us dress; it is to be observed and can be picked up by the observer. I agree with this quote because even though fashion is known to be exciting, especially through magazines and runway shows, the clothing that normal people wear can be as simple as a plain t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers. Many people wear what feels comfortable to move around in instead of what just looks fashionable, which, as Breward describes, can be “ordinary, mundane, routine, and humble.”

A P H O R I S M  # 2

“Fashion can be about confirmation, of self and others. But it is also about anxiety, ambiguity and worry. As an aid to understanding psychological complexities it is unsurpassed.”

This aphorism suggests how fashion is about fitting in but also standing out: it is used to earn others’ approval through dress. Fashion is a very social phenomenon and through one’s dress, we can see through the wearer’s personality and sometimes insecurities. I agree with this aphorism because people dress to create an image for themselves and to impress others. This quote reminded me of the Uggs trend in my high school. There was a point in time where every girl wore a pair of Uggs to school – even those that initially said that the boots were ugly. These are the people who, as Breward said, are worried about their image towards others and would wear something they didn’t like for the confirmation of others. In this case, the fashion was beyond just a pair of boots – they were a sign of  being part of the “in” crowd.

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