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“Sex and Suits: The Evolution of Modern Dress” by Anne Hollander Response

The importance of fashion has been argued for many years. Many academics and critics do not see the value in fashion and discredit it for being vain and materialistic. Anne Hollander recognizes the nuances in fashion, non-fashion and anti-fashion, and sheds insight on how the three both impact and are impacted by society. However, Hollander refuses to believe that fashion is reflective of the times and can give insight into the changes in history. She states “While changes are occurring, a palimpsest of old modes always remains on the scene, to confuse the future historian. Small movements in fashion can be traced; but they seem to have no direct relation to changes in the social fabric, even though they go on at the same time.” [1] She fails to discuss how trends and styles have been reflective of time periods and the movements that happened. Fashion was more conservative and required less material during World War 2 due to the economic struggles brought on by the war. Women took on more responsibility and their clothes were reflective of it. During the 1920s women have a sexual freedom and short flapper dresses became widely popular. Present day fashion is quick, cheap, and reliant on globalization and unfair manufacturing processes which says a lot about the consumerist nature of today.

When looking at fashion on a micro level, it is hard to see the trends and how it is reflected of the time period. Fashion is too free flowing and ever changing, so it is hard to view it so closely. But when looking at it on a broader scale, fashion does provide great insight on the mindset and ways of that time.


[1] Anne Hollander, “The Work of Fashion,” Sex and Suits: The Evolution of Modern dress. (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 1994), 16.


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