What Is Fashion?


Fashion is a multifaceted concept that refers to clothing, footwear, accessories, cosmetics, and jewelry. Throughout history, clothes have largely served as status symbols and as signifiers of social belonging, reflecting both individuality and societal trends. Fashion can be a way of conveying one’s beliefs or values, for example when the miniskirt became popular, it was associated with feminism and female emancipation, while cassocks or nuns’ robes have been used to express a renunciation of vanity.

It can also reflect cultural exchange, for example the fusion of Eastern and Western styles, or the incorporation of exotic, non-Western elements into Western fashions. It can also refer to the general appearance of a group, for instance, in the way that the style of the 1950s was characterised by tailored suits and wide-collared blouses with full sleeves. A person’s fashion choices can be influenced by media coverage of the latest trends, for example through magazines and blogs.

In the past, some styles remained “in fashion” for longer periods of time, for example the cut of a gentleman’s coat or the length of a waistcoat. New discoveries or wars could provide the impetus for a change in fashions, such as the shift from the short skirts of the 1920s to the long dresses of the 1950s.

A fad or trend is considered to be out of fashion when it loses popularity, but it may reappear at a later date, for example when the popularity of retro clothing increases or when a particular designer gains fame and recognition. Fashion can also reflect the current political or economic climate, for example when a particular color or style is worn as a statement of support or protest.