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'Is Fashion clothing a form of social control?'

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Introduction

Alex Taylor 'Is Fashion clothing a form of social control?' Fashion, defined as being the style popular at a given time, can be seen in every corner of the world in one form or another. Fashion is not only a very dynamic concept but is also seen to be specific to the location and context that it is in. Each culture has its own form of traditional fashion that can be seen in the more modern forms of fashion. As a result of increasing globalization many of these cultural barriers have been breached and the fashion within spills over into worldwide fashion. For example we might now see international footballers wearing a sarong in an attempted fashion statement. Role models are a key issue within the concept of fashion, and will be looked at further on in the argument. Clothes are a clear form of division within society, whether it is between class, gender or even sexual orientation. Anyone living in society can read into these signifiers and mostly have an understanding of what they represent. The clothes that we wear can often act a barrier between groups of people. The aim of wearing a certain type of clothing could be said to achieve a sense of belonging to a social group. As fashion changes, groups may wish to make a statement about their beliefs through their clothes, or lack thereof. ...read more.

Middle

This could be seen as a considerable discrimination in some respects, however, it seems the choice of women in the workplace to try and stand out from their female colleagues by dressing up rather than conceding to wear a standard suite. From an early age it is taught young girls that they must act in a lady-like manner, including how they present themselves. 'In order to become a wife and mother, a woman has to have a man; a goal represented to teenagers as essential yet almost unattainable. To get a man, a woman has to regard herself as a commodity whose value is based on her appearance and presentation.'(Shilling, 1993, p.64). It is not the case however that women simply dress up in order to attract the male gaze, more often the case is that women have 'become subjects of a (female) voyeuristic gaze' (Lury, 1996, p.147). Narcissism among women goes so far as for them to be constantly comparing and competing with their female peers. So, often it might be said that women dress up to be seen by other women rather than, as suggested before, for men. Behind fashion is a vast industry of producers and designers whose livelihood depends upon the commodity capitalism that is seen in our society. Their aim is to induce upon the consumer the idea that they must continue to buy new products in order not to become unfashionable. ...read more.

Conclusion

So, it seems that the only control the consumer has is that of an undetermined level of self-control. People are often restricted to a specific budget that they then are unable to deter from. In this postmodern shopping age of malls and galleries where commodities are available on credit from the bank, most people are able to exceed their advised budget. A trend shift between men and women has also been seen in recent years. Men now have a great deal more choice than they may have once had in the time where the choice was between either a suite and bowler hat or a laborers overall. Now there is just as much emphasis on what men wear as women, with designer shops dedicated to just that. The paradox within fashion of course with all of this mass consumerism and individuality is where one can then say that peoples fashion groups them into different sectors as a society. Whether fashion represents individualism or not, there is not enough emphasis upon its importance within society as a form of control. It seems that in every sense people are manipulated and used in terms of fashion and consumerism. People are branded and grouped in terms of what they wear and how they are seen by others, it is 'the endless process through which the body is decoded and recorded' (Connor, 1997, p. ...read more.

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