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Men's Fashion for Women and Vice Versa

Essay by review  •  November 27, 2010  •  Essay  •  857 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,038 Views

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Men's Fashion for Women and Vice Versa

Civilizations as ancient as Jericho and as widespread as the Roman Empire have used clothing and jewelry as a form of nonverbal communication to indicate specific occupation, rank, gender, class, wealth, and group affiliation. These same material goods are used today for similar modes of communication. While some modern societies like the Taliban in Afghanistan make such distinctions with utmost conformity (the Taliban of Afghanistan) others like America have proven to be more dynamic. This dynamic nature can be seen in the emergence of crossover fashion within the last 80 years which has correlated with the changing role and social status of women in society. The effect of the gradual increase of power for women during the Industrial Revolution could be seen in the increase of crossover fashion. As a result, crossover fashion is dominate and socially acceptable in today's society.

From the 1700's through the Industrial Revolution, regulating fashion was deemed as a way of preserving social and gender distinctions that were firmly established in the predominantly patriarchal society. During the 1850's, the Victorian Era, there were strict guidelines on how people could behave and dress, and behaviors that they had to conform to their everyday lives. The rules were so strict that there were codes for how certain inanimate objects should be displayed; for example, table covers had to be long enough to cover the table's legs because society thought that it had a sexual connotation. Furthermore, women were not able to display themselves as freely as men--- hence; female attire was for the most part very static and uncomfortable. Women were constrained by their male dominated society which put them at a lower social level than men: "Men like to display a handsome vest, and nicely plaited shirt-bosom, and why may we not have the same privilege (109)?" Even in the political arena, women had no rights. However, landmark conventions such as the Seneca Falls of 1848 which occurred during the heart of the Industrial Revolution, which were organized to improve oppressed condition of women, helped the advancement of suffrage and women's rights. Fashion changes reflected this gradual success and acquisition of rights--- fashion was beginning to emerge as women wanted more social status in society. Females were willing to sacrifice themselves and their reputation to be able to dress and express themselves to the same degree as their male counterparts. Even as women joined the industrial workplace by working in factories, fashion was used not only for comfort but also to get the principle idea of equality heard: "A change is demanded and if I have been the means of calling the attention of the public to it and of leading only a few to disregard old customs and for once to think and act for themselves, I shall not trouble myself about the false imputations that may be cast upon me (100)." This shows that women were franticly attempting to be masculine instead of striving to perfect their femininity. This kind of wrong and radical way of thinking naturally found expression in clothing.

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