What is Fashion?


Fashion is a style of clothing, hair, makeup and accessories that changes over time. A person’s fashion sense may be seen as a way of expressing their personality and social status. In the past, fashion was considered to be a way of showing solidarity with other people. For example, stranded sailors often made use of whatever materials were available to fashion them a simple fishing rod. The word fashion can also be used in a more abstract sense to describe the general direction of change, for example, ‘fashion forward’.

Unlike the word style, which describes a combination of lines, shapes and forms, fashion is a more social concept. For something to be considered fashionable, it must be widely accepted by a large segment of the population at some point in time.

A garment or accessory can be in fashion for a short period of time or it might become a classic, which will retain its popularity for a long period. A garment that is no longer in fashion is usually called out of style or a fad (Reilly, 2012).

The Fashion industry has been developed since the 19th Century, following new technologies such as cheaper color printing and mass production of clothing in factories. Before this, most clothing was handmade for each person, by individual dressmakers and tailors or in shops such as department stores. Clothes have become more gendered as well; some styles are only made for women or men. Cross-dressing in these styles can be considered to be inappropriate and unfashionable.