LP Post #5: What is Fashion?

Reflect on the question “what is fashion?” which you were originally asked to answer in Week One. How has your understanding of fashion changed since the beginning of the semester?


Beginning this semester, what I understood fashion to be was a very aesthetic and artistic definition: it is the use of garments to express how we feel and what we want to convey to the world. I always thought of it as an art medium, which can be used to raise awareness, experiment and push new boundaries, and instill confidence or other emotions through clothing to the wearer. However, after learning about fashion from a more psychological and sociological standpoint in class, I realize how we connect to fashion and the idea of a “dressed body” extends far more than just pretty clothes we want to wear. Joanne Entwistle explores what it means to be dressed, as an individual and as part of society. She states, “The dressed body is not only a uniquely individual, private and sen­sual body, it is a social phenomenon too, since our understandings and techniques of dress and our relationship to cloth, are socially and historically constituted” (Entwistle, 135). Whether we want to or not, we all participate in fashion, just by dressing ourselves everyday. And this action is often done with little thought, a core part of our routine we take for granted. But what we choose to wear says a lot about the society and our relation to it. There are all types of rules and pressures that act on our bodies when we come to dress everyday (trends, social acceptance and culture, weather, morality, intersectionality sections, etc). How I dress is very different to my mom, as I interviewed her for my dress practice. Our subject positions differ drastically as well as the way we grew up. This factors into how we dress now, my mom still wearing things she has had since 10 years ago, formally for the business workplace, and taking into her age and weight into deciding factors, while I tend t0 wear things that are more comfortable, easy to get around the city, and on trend. As well as the things we choose to wear, how they have an impact on other people, the environment, and the supply chain are all factors we should consider when dressing and shopping, especially when it comes to fast fashion (as shown in the documentary, “The True Cost”). Before I started fashion school, I was never made aware, or really thought about where my clothes came from. Coming from a family that is well off enough to be able to afford multiple sets of clothing, but still raised in the mindset of saving money, my choices often came down to, whether I really needed this piece and whether it was worth the price (often looking for sales and cheap clothing). Only now do I realize that although I am paying very little for this garment, the actual cost on the environment and the labor has only gone up, worsening with every fast fashion purchase I buy into. The fashion world and our identity is very connected. Fashion is more than just putting on clothes, it stands for the rules and metaphors that shape our decisions when dressing the body, it constitutes the entire “hidden” system that affects many, it is the way we react to our society and the building of relationships between the private individual and the society.

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