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What Shall I Wear?

Our daily decision of "what shall 1 wear?" has actually been shaped through history.

Two basic desires fuel the fashion industry - novelty and conformity. Almost everyone enjoys wearing something new. That is why we sometimes buy clothes, not because we need to replace something old, but simply because we want a change. At the same time, we want to look appropriate, and we do not want to look out of place, so we buy clothes that conform to some degree to the style worn by the friends in our geographical area. Over the centuries the clothing industry has catered to and exploited these desires for novelty and conformity.

Background History

To create style, designers use five basic elements: color, silhouette, drape, texture and patterns. The options available to designers in all five areas were not always present. In ancient Egypt, for example, locally produced see-through linen was the a fabric of choice. But it could not be dyed easily and was just one color - bleached white. So, Egyptian fashion designers pleated the material into a pleasing drape to create one of the world's most enduring styles,

During the first century only affluent Romans used silk from China or India because it was as costly to import as gold. Due to cost, changes in styles came slowly and usually affected just nobility. For centuries kings and nobles set the standards of dress, and a costly garment would likely be in fashion for a lifetime.

After the industrial revolution, it became possible for the common people to be more fashionable. Mechanized mills brought the price of fabrics down. Because of sewing machines clothes could be produced more cheaply, and new synthetic dyes offered a greater color choice.
Social and technological changes played an even greater role in clothing the masses. People had more money, and in the 1850's women's magazines appeared, bringing fashion trends to the fore and offered inexpensive patterns so that women could make their own clothes. Soon department stores began offering ready-to-wear clothes in standard sizes.

In the 20th century manufacturers offered a wider array of fabrics. As movies and television became popular, stars set fashion trends for all to see. Today, advertisers make effective use of magazines, shop windows, television and entertainers to generate a demand for new clothes.

Because of globalization, new fashion trends appear almost simultaneously all over the world and feed our desire for novelty and conformity. Today, young people have taken the place of the wealthy as the most ardent fashion enthusiasts.

Putting Fashion Into Perspective

The fashion designer aims to enhance our beauty through the clothes we wear, but we shouldn't allow the media to impose it's own stereotype.

Fashion by it's own nature is transient. We can dress well without being a slave to fashion. The secret lies in learning to buy clothes that suit you using your color and style information as your guide. Your closet will then be filled with outfits that are practical, combine well, and won't quickly so out of style.
Remember: Dress is a symbol of what we think of ourselves, and is nonverbal communication.
Make the message clear by dressing in harmony. It will help to make you more comfortable, confident and ageless.

The bottom line: If it doesn’t look good on you, it’s not in style.
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This site was updated on May 4, 2024
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