What Is Fashion?

Fashion is a general term that refers to prevailing modes of dress and behaviour. It is also used to describe a particular style of clothing, footwear and other accessories. Fashion can be influenced by the media, including films, TV shows, music and celebrity gossip. Fashion changes over time and can be seen as a way of self-expression or solidarity with a group. It can also be influenced by the environment, such as the season, location or climate.

Changes in fashions can be very rapid. For example, the silhouette of men’s shirts changed dramatically from the long, flowing coats of medieval times to the short, tight jackets of the late 14th century. In some societies, clothing was a marker of status. For instance, Roman senators wore garments dyed Tyrian purple and emperors of China wore yellow clothes. In addition to being a means of showing one’s social rank, wearing particular clothes was also an opportunity for creative expression. The renowned artist Albrecht Durer drew contrasts of well dressed bourgeoises in Nuremberg and women from Venice, both wearing high-chopines that made them look taller.

Although tailors, dressmakers and textile producers were responsible for many changes in the past, the professional designer became a dominant force in the modern fashion industry after 1858 when Charles Frederick Worth established his first haute couture house in Paris. Fashion designers often create their own lines of clothing, based on an existing style or model.

While changing styles can be a mark of individuality, it is important to understand the difference between a fad and a trend. A fad is a quick-changing, capricious fashion, while a trend is a longer-lasting style that will still be recognizable in future seasons.