Fashion and Its Influence on Identities Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Fashion Lifestyle&Consumption and it's influence on identities

Fashion, lifestyle, and consumption and their influence on identities

Fashion plays a huge role in presenting visual images of a person and some even relate to fashionable objects such as garments as though they were humans able to represent them. Direct contact and intimacy with fashionable objects such as garments influences how a person's image is presented and especially the intimacy of the garment with the body creates a highly visual image of the social identity of the person. This is because garments present the interaction between the person and the outside world and often present the first statement for the person. Exploring how fashion interacts with the environment to create a social identity is of interest to understand how fashion provides a means for the person to create a visual statement.

Fashion and the body

A person's body is often seen as being tangible and can be viewed from the outside. It often creates the full image of the person. Fashion items thus create the interaction between the body and the external environment. Thus the body as a symbol of society and the accuracy of this presentation is met through fashion. At the same time, the body's image can be hidden or restricted by garments and thus the personality of the individual can be limited or hidden through fashion. This is a concept referred to as blurring the image of the body Kinney, 1999()

Fashion imprints social information on the bod. This is also incorporated and reiterated through patterns and movements that are created by garments. This phenomenon is what is seen when fashion models move in ritually ceremonial ways trying to create a social interaction with their external environment. As defined by scholars, garments do not dress a body that is already define neither do they help to form an identity about the body. Rather, they help to portray those social identities that are in the body and naturalized. During social interactions, the body and its garments are usually visible therefore in as much as the garments create a compelling first impression, the two are often visible at the same time and the garment creates a strong optical or visual identify while the body naturalizes this identity.

Garments have often been referred to as the social skins since they facilitate how the body and its gestures integrate when in large groups. The garments are visible but removable. Therefore, they express fantasies, aspirations, and dreams. Basically, the fundamental personality of the individual. However, a person does not usually have full control of their appearance since this is defined by the fashion industry, how fast fashion changes, and other movements and portrayals by the industry Khaire, 2011.

The garment is important when interpreting the body attitude and image but at the same time has implications and restrictions stemming from the fashion industry.

Restrictions on garments

Restrictions on garments and how image is portrayed are dependent on two factors. First are the social or ethical principles and second are the legal practices. These restrict garments and may cause an increase of the pressure of a person to adapt a new appearance, attitude, or behavior. Because dressing has the ability to transform the body's social image, it has also been used t record social identities by creating laws limiting cost of clothing and how they are marketed. These regulations create tension and clothing or garments now become a huge contributing factor to a person's image.

Garments and values they portray

When a person chooses their item of clothing, they are selecting the persona they wish to portray for the interactions that are ahead. This means the person has freedom of choice in deciding which of the multiple personalities to portray. Through dressing, a person can communicate and control their personality and create a picture of their values, which often have social, emotional, and psychological consequences. This is seen in the distinct variation between office and eveningwear. Since dressing creates and communicates the person's personality and values, it creates an interesting field for studying consumer values and their link to clothing Craig J. Thompson and Diana L. Haytko, 1997()

The link between values and clothing has received interest from several scholars. Some have argued that a person's dressing is influenced by the most dominant values in their life, their social attitude, socioeconomic status, age, and other circumstance that they want to portray as a form of self-introduction. Clothing symbolically communicates the person's social identity, especially how the person wants to appear in their interactions. Price is often a huge factor in determining the concentration of prestige and power as well as other social values.

Gender and fashion

For women, more than men, their clothes highlight characteristics of the person wearing them. However, the structure of this information is often not known and how it is interpreted also varies. Scholars generally agree that clothing creates a visual language for women with its own distinct vocabulary. Women use clothing to express their emotions, modes and other elements. Though it may often be misinterpreted, it is argued that garments are a visual symbol of the feeling of the woman. Some authors even state that dressing portrays more than what it shows optically.

Fashion is heavily influenced by time and is thus a temporary situation. What is in fashion this season will not be in fashion in the next few months. On the contrary, garments and the image they portray is informed by the contextual information surrounding wearing the garment, the person's naturalized identity, the place, circumstances, and moods as well. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and the same applies to garments. Garments portray a visual text about the person Wasson, 1968.

Clothing of the young groups is different from that of the more mature groups. Different communities, races, and cultures also wear differently.

The identify of a woman is greatly influenced by fashion. Women often portray social identities through their garments. Fashion for women is a symbol of their class in the society. They use fashion to communicate their ostentatiousness and financial position. Women in urban areas often use fashion to portray their class compared to women in suburban or rural areas. Their social identities are influenced by their aspirations and these are portrayed through their dressing. Women often get the sense that their acceptance or rejection by their social group is based on their fashion sense and self-image and not race, politics, class, or merit Summers, 1970.

They deem their fashion status as a prerequisite of membership into certain social groups therefore take fashion very seriously. Women also have the sense that fashion is used to classify the upper, middle and lower classes which makes them strive even harder to portray their position as members of the upper class through their dressing.

Whatever the current fashionable trend, women strive to portray an image that designates them as members of the upper classes and more desirable social groups. They deem clothing as a social categorization and identification for themselves Miller et al., 1993.

Through their dressing, there is a social comparison that takes place to define their identities and values.

Fashion and identity

Fashion is a more female dominated and thus women are generally affected by fashion more than men. The theory of development presented by Erik Erikson suggests that a person's identity changes depending on their stage of development in life. The visual communication that garments or fashion in general provides of a person's identity also changes over time. This creates the difference between dressing of young persons and more mature individuals. Some scholars also argue that how a person dresses can influence their acceptance or rejection in a particular social group, their respect, attention, or admiration McRobbie, 1997.

There is psychological, political, economic, and social consequence and meaning to how a person dresses.

On the other hand, identity is an extremely complex concept and often ambiguous in nature. It can be loosely understood leading to misinterpretation of meaning. Scholars often argue that we have multiple identities Loughran, 2003.

This stems from the argument that it is difficult to understand a person's identity and how their identity changes based on their psychological, social, economic status, or other circumstances. How the person dresses is also influenced by their feelings, thoughts, behavior, mannerism and other circumstances. This creates a complexity in understanding the separate contexts of the individuals.

Fashion and national identity

Fashion greatly creates a national identity for many individuals. The capacity to choose a person that creates a national identity is also dependent on the fashion industry through defining styles that are unique to a certain nationality or culture. Often these styles are designed as tributes to the history of the country or culture and other important aspects of the country. Often these national fashion is a form of shared aesthetic that presents the nature of the people in the country through fashion. Often these national fashion carve an identify that brings together different…

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