Fashion in our social lives


14 April 2018

Fashion is worth 2% of the world economy. It is one of the most influential aspects of social life since the Renaissance.

As Kurt W.Back says in ‘Modernism and Fashion’, it is “…one of the crowning achievements of western civilization or it is incontrovertible evidence of consumers culture’s witless obsession with the trivial and the unreal. It is either creative to the point of being an ‘art’, enabling individuals and cultures to express their inner feelings and personalities, or it is exploitative to the point of criminality, forcing people to work and spend more than is healthy for them or society…” (Kurt W. Back)

What space do clothes really occupy in our lives?

As Roland Barthes once stated, “…Clothing concerns all of the human person, all of the body, all of the relationships of man to body as well as the relationships of the body to society…”

Clothing is a complicated aspect of our lives, and its impact on how we feel and how we are perceived is fascinating! Historically, apart from covering our bodies, clothes have been an expression of personality, status and profession. But also, we choose certain clothes for social or psychological reasons. What we wear says a lot about us, which explains why, for most people, picking clothes to wear is an issue.

Indeed, some anthropologists identify clothes as “a social skin”. It is a means of identification. We teach our children to identify people according to their clothes (uniforms, religions, styles).

But also, when we choose clothes, they reflect our individuality, if we are formal, creative, eccentric, introverted, extroverted, “fashionable”. Above all, we must remember that diversity is what keeps us alive!

The other aspect of our clothes is where we buy them and what we do with them: they are our responsibility the minute we purchase them.

According to Andrea Speranza, head of Education at TRAID (a charity working to stop clothes from being thrown away), “our current social paradigm promotes the value novophilia” (buying something because it is new). Fashion as we have it today promotes the opposite of diversity. There is always someone telling us what to wear and when to wear it. Collections are launched all year round now. That is why second hand shops are great. Our choice of clothes is based on our creativity. We never know what we are going to find.

But above all, in a society where we have the choice of dressing as we wish, we also have the opportunity of wearing what we love, colors, shapes, styles that appeal to us and make us feel good. I love elegance and structure in my clothes, because it makes me feel strong and prettier, and because I know it suits me. Color has increasingly become part of my life also. Sometimes I’m a bit over-dressed but sometimes I inspire people to dress up a little more when they go out, put some make-up, have a nice handbag. In the end it’s a game, and the objective is to enjoy every single part of it: the buying experience, the wearing experience and the donating, selling, recycling or upcycling experience.

I remember when I was 10 years old, living in Sydney, Australia, I had a great friend called Elisa, on weekends we would play outside in the garden, playing war. We would dress up as militaries with shoe polish on our forehead and cheeks, climb trees, run around, set up a tent, and then in the evening we would dress as grown-up elegant women with flowery dresses and red lipstick. It was fun. It was just a game.

Every single day we open up our wardrobe and decide what to wear. Let’s make everyday’s dressing up a game also, to start the day with positive vibes. Dress your life in color!

©I-DYLIC. Article by Eleonore Vadon