Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Fashion
Fashion is a subjective term, a style of dressing and mode of self-expression at a given time and place and at a given context. The word, in the broader sense, implies an appearance determined by the fashion industry as what is fashionable at that time. It refers to clothes, accessories, make-up, hairstyles, and even character and attitude. The range of acceptable fashion is quite broader than one would at first imagine, as it actually includes all categories of dress and attire.
What is accepted today as fashionable is determined by individual taste, current fashions, market trends, and social mores. Certain styles, colors, fabrics, and patterns are considered stylish in one particular society while being totally unacceptable or downright distasteful in another. Thus, everyone wears clothing, but not everyone wears the same. Everyone dresses up for certain occasions, but not everyone dresses down. Each culture has its own established fashion, with acceptable and unacceptable versions, and each version is usually accompanied by a corresponding insult or comment.
Fashion critics, collectors, designers, and enthusiasts form a vital part of our culture. Without them, fashion could not exist. Fashion critics evaluate style through the prism of societal expectations and critique it accordingly. They are the ones who recognize what is fashionable, what is cool, what is trendy, what is outrageous, and what is appealing. They are the ones who let us know what’s fashionable.
In fashion, style is not merely the sum of its parts, but is instead determined by the combination of these parts. Each item of apparel or accessory, regardless of how commonplace it may appear, either is acceptable or is not acceptable depending on its appearance, its color, its shape, its cut, and so on. And what is seen and heard is only one amongst the infinite number of combinations that constitute style; hence, fashion is not merely ‘fashionable’, but it is ‘counterfeitable’.
The connotations of fashion differ widely between the cultures that appreciate it or shun it. For instance, in most European countries, to be seen dressed in jeans or a skirt is considered to be unfashionable, whereas wearing a kilt or a shirt and tie is considered to be acceptable. Conversely, in the United States, to wear too much designer clothing is considered to be unfashionable, while too little is acceptable. The same can be said of Africa or South America, although here, too, certain styles, such as sandals, are considered unfashionable, whereas others, such as headbands, are acceptable. Thus, the connotations of fashion vary significantly across different cultures and countries.
Fashion is the art of matching what is seen and heard. This is why trends come and go, taking in and substituting other styles as they come along. Fashion is the one thing that remains constant, even in times of change. And if there is one thing that remains constant, that would be that each and every one of us, will continue to be influenced by fashion, both in what we choose to wear and how we wear it.