At the beginning of this semester, I wrote in the in-class writing that “Fashion refers to the trends of people’s outfit including garments, accessories, make-up, hairstyles and so on.” My understanding of fashion at that time is still a noun. However, after this semester’s study of fashion, I have a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of fashion, as not only a noun but also a verb, an adjective. As a verb, “fashion” at one hand means “to make”, at the other hand it implies a kind of agency that Susan Kaiser described in her book Fashion and Cultural Studies “the freedom or ability to exert one’s voice and resist power relations in some way,” (Kaiser, 2012) It is an action that involved expressing opinions and attitudes. And as an adjective, fashion is not only limited to describe clothes and beauty. It could describe a lifestyle, a language or an activity.
Most importantly, we learned fashion in a systematic way that we are not looking fashion as separate object but putting fashion in a larger context which related to subject formation, race, media, subculture and so on. This systematic learning emphasizes a multidimensional thinking and avoids the binary oppositional thinking just as what Susan Kaisers wrote: “Studying fashion is a both/and, rather than an either/or activity.” (Kaiser, 2012) It helps me so much in developing my design work for this semester. For example, I was working on researching the Miao minority dress of China for developing my own design. I was not only focusing on their nationality but also considering the subject position like gender, class, age, place in order to have a more comprehensive understanding of the clothing, not a stereotype of the minority nationality. It is the same when it applies to my own dress practices. For example, I start considering why I wear turtleneck tight shirt with long sleeves a lot no matter in winter or summer. I find out that the reason I wear like this is because I don’t want to look to sexualized as exposing too much part of my body. And the fear comes from the internalized discipline of dressing in china that wearing little clothes would be considered as a dissolute woman. Right now I’m not feeling ashamed when wearing sleeveless top or skirts since I’m not intimidated by that invisible dressing discipline anymore. Overall, the fashion study this semester helps me discover a more authentic self of not only dress practices but also design and thought process.
- Kaiser, Susan. 2012. Fashion and Culture studies. London; New York: Berg.