The History of Fashion

Fashion is the way we let others know who we are without saying a word. The clothes we wear, and the style we choose reflects our personality, values, interests, and beliefs. It’s also about knowing style (that lasts) and trends that fade.

Fashion provides a wide range of benefits, both personal and societal. Some of the more obvious benefits are that it can provide a sense of creativity, and it can also give us confidence and a sense of identity. In addition, fashion can help create economic growth through employment and the promotion of new products. However, many critics argue that the fashion industry is based on superficial trends and consumerist consumerism, which can be harmful to society.

The term “fashion” was first used in the 13th century to describe the way a person dressed, with the main aim of showing one’s social status. Throughout the centuries, this concept has developed into an art form in which a person is judged by what he or she wears, both for its appearance and meaning. For example, the courtier of the 17th century wore formal dresses and wigs while the common people wore plain fabrics. Today, we can see that the same trend continues: the rich and famous wear haute couture while the masses follow the latest sitcom star’s look or a celebrity’s outfit on the red carpet.

The beginning of continual and accelerating change in clothing styles can be dated fairly accurately to late medieval times, though historians disagree on the exact date. The most dramatic early change was a drastic shortening of men’s over-garments from calf-length to barely covering the buttocks, which was accompanied by a tightening of the silhouette and the use of expensive materials like silk and velvet.

These changes were the result of both cultural and economic factors. As trade routes opened and Europeans discovered new parts of the world, the clothing worn changed. For instance, the well-to-do bourgeoise of Nuremberg might wear Turkish garments while her counterpart in Venice might favor Chinese or Japanese designs.

In addition, changing styles were a reflection of the political climate. During the French Revolution, for example, the lower classes’ traditional clothing was replaced by a more utilitarian style, reflecting the revolutionary ideas that were being promoted. Clothing can also be a means of identification and tradition: judges wear robes, soldiers wear uniforms, brides wear white.

The fashion industry is a large business, with millions of workers designing, sewing, glueing, dyeing and delivering clothing to stores. In addition, many people spend a lot of time and money following the trends, either consciously or subconsciously. The resulting trend in what is worn can influence how a person acts and interacts with others. This can cause a person to become more confident and bold, or it can make them timid and shy. Regardless of the impact on a person’s mental and physical health, it is impossible to ignore the powerful force that is fashion.