Since antiquity, men have always regarded clothing as a means of information. According to the way people dress, society may infer that an individual belongs to a certain group, tribe or religion. However, it is important to gauge people’s attitude in order to realize whether they wear certain clothes because they feel identified with it or because these pieces of clothing are in fashion. Note also that although image is a universal language, people from different cultures have different conceptions of what clothing represents. Therefore, in order that the information transmitted through clothing is correctly understood, a shared code needs to exist between the wearer and the viewer.
Through the clothing he uses, the wearer may express either support or disagreement with the current trend. However, if the other members of his group do not understand what he tries to express, the message is lost and clothing fails to fulfill its function of information medium. Bearing in mind that fashion trends are social rules that may reflect a value or a local custom, we are inclined to thinking that most people use clothing as a means of showing or reaffirming their attitude. Teenagers, for instance, tend to wear clothing that goes against cultural norms and beliefs imposed by adults.
Different garments may express how rebellious, submissive, innovative or conservative people are. Such is the case of punk rockers, people who oppose to authority and express themselves through shocking behavior, clothes and hair. Punks usually wear black tattered clothes, and trousers, skirts and shirts that are cut, torn, or wrapped with tape, and usually decorated with safety pins or studs. Other common elements of Punk fashion are tartan pants, dickeys, leather jackets, sleeveless shirts, and torn clothing, usually of tartan patterns.
During the 70s, for instance, anti-fashion was a form of protest against the establishment. In that period hippies used clothing to tell of their plight for social equality and diversity. They wore clothes of strong colors and flamboyant styles. Among the most frequent pieces of clothing were tie-dyed T-shirts and Hindu blouses. A wide range of humble items such as jeans and tattered pieces of clothing were used. Hippie music, ideals and garments gained acceptance in most circles as a way of showing non-conformism and thirst from freedom, and later started being emulated by designers such as Saint Laurent, Giorgio di' Sant Angelo and Kenzo.
Several styles that developed in the past are very fashionable today. Gothic fashion, for instance, is a style that consists mainly of black clothing accessorized with silver and pewter. Typical Gothic fashion for women include gowns, corsets, veils and fishnets, most in black or other dark colors. Death Rock or Horror Punk fashion is a new style very similar to Goth fashion. The predominant color is black, and usual pieces of clothing are fishnet stockings, corsets and t-shirts with printed logos of certain music bands representative of the style. Common Deathrock pieces of clothing include black jeans, tight black or colored plaid pants, short black or colored plaid bondage mini-skirts, black Lycra mini-skirts, and black or white lace skirts.
Another very popular style is Grungie. Fans of Grunge wear clothes similar to those of punk rockers, although simpler. Grungies wear denim jackets, flannel shirts, ripped jeans and work boots. Pop Punk fashion is another style derived from Punk, and characterized by the use of Converse All-Stars or skate shoes, dickeys and tight T-shirts with a tie or black scarf. Studded belts and stretchy gloves with the fingers cut off are also representative of this trend, and also blazers and trilbies.
Clothing is also regarded as a means of declaring membership in a certain village, caste or religion. Sari, for example, is a piece of clothing in the shape of a dress that is worn especially by Indian and Pakistani women, consisting of a very long piece of thin cloth wrapped around the body. Some pieces of clothing are closely related to ideas of human sexuality and sexual display, and because of this humans have developed clothing fetishes. People may be strongly aroused by the sight of another person wearing clothing and accessories they consider sexually exciting, and sometimes the object of clothing becomes the object of arousal itself. Fetishes have been documented in every culture and have been recorded throughout history.
Fetish clothing includes lace underwear, skin-tight clothing, and gaments made of fabrics such as leather, fur, satin, rubber, spandex and fishnet, among others. Nurse, maid and schoolgirl uniforms are also fetishes. These materials, however, are also used in functional clothing. Catsuits, corsets, gloves, thigh-high boots, stockings and suspenders are also regarded as fetish clothing, as well as heeled shoes, boots and garters. Since fashion fetichism is so popular, it has led to the development of a new industry of clothing characterized by the design of clothing that attracts buyers with specialized tastes.
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