In our society, a typical person on an average day does not pay much attention to the clothes that they wear and are more concerned with the comfort and functionality of their clothing than the way it looks and makes them feel.
According to a 2014 60 Minutes poll, 52 percent of women, tragically, would prefer to wear Crocs over a mink coat. Seventy-two percent of people haven’t the slightest clue who André Leon Talley--an acclaimed former editor-at-large for Vogue--is, and another 8 percent are erroneously under the impression that he was a 16th century French explorer. Evidently, the vast majority of people are unaware of and could not care less about the aesthetic or artistic qualities clothing has and the culture that surrounds it, and fail to see the significance it has beyond its utilitarian function. With so many people of this ilk perpetuating this idea, our culture has evolved to deem fashion as frivolous when it is quite the opposite.
So, where did this idea originate? It has much more problematic roots than you may think. Elisa Kreisinger--Executive Producer at Refinery29, a popular fashion-oriented new media brand--weighed in on the topic. "From a young age, women are told their worth comes from what they look like. Then, we're told that we're narcissistic for caring about how we look. It exemplifies a culture that consistently pulls the rug out from under women and other minorities and changes the rules of the game,” Kreisinger said. She goes on to say that “anything that is seen as 'feminine' (pop culture, makeup, fashion) is dismissed as frivolous, while traditionally 'masculine' activities such as baseball, fishing, and golf are upheld as pastimes.” With these sexist ideas surrounding fashion exposed, it is important to reject fashion’s frivolous status and explore the reasons why it is of genuine value.
Fashion and culture are inextricably linked, and influence each other symbiotically. Often times when we think of pivotal moments in cultural history, the fashion of that period of time is a vivid component of it. It is because of this that pieces of clothing worn by important figures of the past are valued as some of the most priceless artifacts. Fashion has also become the face of certain social movements like feminism. At the beginning of early feminist movements, Chanel was among the first designers to make non-corseted dresses that allowed women to finally move freely. Amelia Earhart, one of the first female pilots and feminist icon, wore trousers because it was almost physically impossible to fly a plane in a dress. It was an act that gave women everywhere the confidence to wear trousers.While choice of clothing seems arbitrary and frivolous, there is significance in fashion. Keep this in mind when you’re choosing between the Crocs and a mink coat, and perhaps brush up on the distinction between French explorers and Vogue editors. You may think fashion is simply too much work to be essentially throwing money out the window, but, in the words of Chanel Creative Director Karl Lagerfeld, “If you throw money out of the window, throw it out with joy. Don’t say ‘one shouldn’t do that’ – that is bourgeois.”