Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Fashion rant(ers)

Why do some people get so bothered about others taking an interest in fashion? Do they get as agitated by an interest in other visual and applied arts, which involve comparable levels of creativity, skill or technology in their production? Fine art or product design don't seem to attract the same reaction... Maybe it's based on a narrow definition of fashion offered by the glossy magazines, apparently drawing in helpless victims of slick advertising campaigns... Or is it tainted with negative connotations of gender - isn't it just frivolous, feminine frippery, after all? What's the alternative - fashion co-existing with intelligence, whatever that is...? And maybe a social conscience? Surely not! Oh dear... it looks like it's back to the old brainless bimbo cliche again...

So...how do you decide what clothes to wear each day?

It's not decided in a cultural vacuum, funnily enough. All levels of fashion, from couture to high street to anti-fashion, reflect the cultural milieu in which we live, as does clothing in its wider sense. So that includes economic, political, practical, religious, social and sexual influences then. No different to other aspects of material culture, except it's wearable. I was kind of hoping that all the academic work on gender, identity and the body over the past few decades might have had some impact outside the world of fashion theory, but maybe not...

Why do clothes matter? Or do they?

Chris Breward's 'The Culture of Fashion' (1995:1) suggests that the potency of clothing as cultural evidence can be tested by simply criticising someone's clothes; the reaction is much more intense than that aroused by criticising someone's TV, car or house, suggesting a high correlation between clothing, personal identity and values. The recent debate in England about Muslim women's veils is an extreme example of this. Hardly a life or death situation, obviously, but lies at the heart of who we think we are. Or want to be. Fashion is unlikely to change the world overnight, but is not some dreadful evil or completely irrelevant either...

So... what did you wear today... and why?

Goodness... my first big blog rant! Only 2 weeks and I'm already 'venting my spleen' in public...

4 comments:

Mathias Klang said...

Good topic, well argued, angry mood, innovative use of layout and colours.

I must say its an excellent first rant.

There is some room for improvement. I miss a couple of links to the opposition. Just to show how inferior they are :)

OK - so I agree that clothes and fashion is culturally defined. I agree that I did not choose my clothes today (or any other day) through free will. Especially since free will is an illusion. I agree that clothes and fashion are important - in particular in relation to debates such as muslim women. Even if these "debates" are more about latent racism and closet imperialism.

But I still think fashion blogs are silly... Maybe if they argued the way you do they would not be.

But they don't...

claire said...

I wondered whether you'd read it! Good point about a few links to the opposition...they're not there because I find them a bit boring to read actually... Maybe I'm just a big hypocrite! !

Mathias Klang said...

What! A hypocritical blogger? Never.

DoneGal said...

Hi Claire, A very well structured arguement, just thought my blog http://dictationmanipulation.blogspot.com/ may interest you, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks and good luck.