Fashion and Identity Fashion Culture  Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

The four illustrations from the earliest decades of the twentieth century illustrate the importance of fashion in the formation of identity just as much as Twiggy's outfit does, and in fact are possibly even more telling given their distance from current styles. Regardless of what people of the time though regarding the sexuality of certain of these gown, all of them give the female figure an incredibly sculpted look, whether or not they attempt to accentuate the female curves. These sculpted fashions coincided with much stricter demands on the social role and identity of women, yet even the subtle changes here reveal the shifting cultural acceptances.

The difference between the first two dresses is somewhat startling -- though the accentuation of the thin waist and large bust is diminished in the dress on the right (the later of the two), mobility is also severely hampered by the circumference of the skirt about the legs. This could suggest that even as women were becoming less sexually objectified, their perceived usefulness was also beginning to diminish, and the fashions women became encumbered with made their apparently preferred inaction nearly mandatory. The second pair of dresses seem to reveal a reverse trend -- the last dress (again on the right) is nearly formless, allowing for full mobility and utility while accentuating or indeed even showing none of the female form.

The role of women in our culture, and the changing identities to which they have been allowed to ascribe, has changed drastically over the course of the twentieth century. Perhaps nowhere is this change more visible than in the pages of fashion magazines, which not only reflect but continue to inform our sense of identity today.


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