Fashion shapes culture, identity

by Kit Murray

murrayki@mnstate.edu

The alarm goes off, and after hopping out of bed to shower, we come back to our closet and examine our wardrobe. Endless patterns take over the room while we sort through sweaters and pants, trying desperately to make an outfit in our heads.

These items are a representation of what we find interesting and what sparks an interest to our personalities. They are a reflection of ourselves and a way for us to portray to others who and what we stand for.

Every day, everywhere, we are making statements. The shoes on the soles of our feet, the mittens we wear, the way our hair is blowing in the atrocious wind. Each of these characteristics helps develop our fashion statement. Fashion, to me, is simply a way of identifying myself.

What began my interest in fashion was my mother’s sewing patterns. With just a machine and a few bits of fabric, clothing was made in front of me. I never thought anything more magical could happen.

What keeps my interest now is how we decide what to clothe ourselves in and how it makes us feel. Working in retail, I’ve always come across people who are buying a new outfit for graduation or for a special date coming up.

Why do we do this? Perhaps we do it to encourage self-assurance and subconsciously remind ourselves we are wonderful human beings by dressing in nicer clothes. Retail therapy insists that we are able to heighten our disposition by buying things. New items, clothing especially, have an effect on our mood and influence how we act.

I asked sophomore business major Paige Parks how she felt about this idea.

“After I’ve bought a new outfit, I feel confident when I wear it, especially if it’s sassy. I usually try to convince myself that I need a new outfit for special occasions; I love new clothes.”

It’s also evident we follow trends because we are inspired by others. A great example that comes to mind is in Mean Girls, when everyone copies Regina’s holes in her white shirt, letting colorful bras show through.

The idea’s repeated in everyday life when items like North Face jackets, Coach bags and Ugg boots take over many of our wardrobes.

Constantly, our eyes are exposed to changing or reoccurring trends. Whether or not we want to partake in those trends is up to us. However, if we do, it can easily reflect on how easy it is for us to conform and encourage them.

I also asked Micheli Vazquez, sophomore cultural anthropology major, how she felt about brands and clothing styles to see what she had to say.

“I love Urban Outfitters because they have a big variety of styles, and they have good quality. I also love shopping at thrift stores. I find so many unique pieces there; both clothing and jewelry. I really love to buy clothes that make me feel good, both mentally and physically. I think it’s important to feel good and confident in what you’re wearing, as well as comfortable.”

Whether we dress for comfort, style, propaganda or for a little boost of confidence, what we wear becomes a part of who we are.

“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”

— Coco Chanel

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