By Rupsa Debnath | YEET MAGAZINE Published 0432 GMT (1232 HKT) July 01, 2021

The art of fashion has long been used as a way to express one's personality.

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In the last few decades, it has taken on an additional role: that of being a mirror to one's identity. Every person is different, and every person wants something different from their clothing. Some people wish to clothes that are trendy while others prefer clothes with more meaning behind them.

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What are fashion and its importance?

Fashion is an expression of the self. The clothes one wears can reflect and projection of who they are or want to become within society. For some, fashion is their best attempt at being noticed by those around them. It's their way of saying, "I am here."

MA Fashion Futures 2016 - London College Of Fashion

For others, fashion has a deeper meaning behind it, like cultural significance and identity status in society. Fashion as a representation for gender presentation could also be seen playing into this idea because every person wants something different from how they present themselves to others through clothing choices such as skirts vs. jeans or fitted pants vs. baggy pants.

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Individualism in fashion is important because it provides people with an outlet for self-expression.

What better way to express who you are as a person than through what clothes you wear? In addition, people should have the freedom and ability to explore different styles that may not conform to societal expectations but rather represent their personal preferences.

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And yet, there are still many instances when clothing choices reinforce gender norms. Girls often feel pressure from society to dress and present themselves based on prevailing social standards created by corporations geared towards making money. Women are made to feel as though they should be ashamed of their bodies and sexualities because that is what the fashion industry wants them to do for a more profitable market.

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Women also experience devaluation stemming from race, socioeconomic status, body size, gender identity or expression, age, sexuality/orientation, disability status, and religion. These factors affect how women dress because society teaches us that if we don't conform, then social consequences will follow.

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How do people use fashion to express their identity?

Fashion and individual identity go hand in hand. The technique provides a means to show our sense of style, taste, personality; it can enhance or make up for certain physical features that are seen as undesirable by society, like body size, gender identity or expression, age, sexuality/orientation, etc.

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Here is an example of how fashion can reflect personal values: one common belief about modesty suggests women should dress modestly, not to be sexually objectified. This translates into wearing clothing styles with high necklines and long skirts covering most parts of their skin other than their face. Some people who may feel strongly about this believe that dressing conservatively protects them from being sexualized by others - but what if someone doesn't want to be protected?

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The person wearing the outfit in this picture is exposing their stomach. A woman who does not feel that dressing conservatively protects them from sexualization may wear clothes like this as a way of rejecting these societal norms and claiming ownership over their own body.

Societal impacts on individual's choice of clothing:

People who are against exposing skin may feel like someone's outfit is too revealing and sexualized

Conservative clothing may be seen as a way to protect oneself from being objectified by men or even themselves.

These examples of dress can also affect the wearer. The person wearing this type of dress might find empowerment in rejecting society norms - but they might also face backlash. And suppose you wear clothes that follow these societal norms. In that case, it doesn't mean your identity is invalidated because you chose not to make an active decision about how you want to present yourself through fashion choices. This means that there isn't one true "right" answer to deciding what we choose to wear every day.

A few examples of dress that have been used to rebuff or reject the norm are:

Women wearing pants in public, which was not seen as appropriate for women until the late 1800s. This was a radical act because it bucked societal norms and defied gender roles by adopting clothing traditionally worn by men. Today we see many more women wearing pants than ever before without any backlash - but there are still some who feel like it's inappropriate for women to wear them.

The bodycon dress, which has certain expectations about what constitutes an attractive woman's figure on display, has been heavily criticized since its inception in the 1990s (most recently with the #weswearthebodycon campaign).

The emergence of the '90s power suit, emphasizing tailored lines and strong shoulders, was a powerful reassertion of women in traditionally male positions.

The cases were typically black or navy blue to project seriousness and authority - but they also embodied traditional feminine qualities like neatness and orderliness, and modesty that these "power heroines" had maintained during their rise through the ranks.

In more recent times, we've seen fashion trends towards gender neutrality: fewer hemlines are at knee level or above for men's trousers; tops are less revealing than before for both sexes; clothes are designed in simple silhouettes without any explicitly gendered markers.

Individuals have always used fashion to express their creativity, personality, and individuality. However, in the 1800s to early 1900s, there was a rise of heroines in business who were seen as successful and feminine, such as Coco Chanel. These women wore suits that projected an image that they were serious about their career while embodying traditional female qualities like neatness and orderliness.

Famous figures who used style as a form of resistance:

Princess Diana: In the late 1960s, before being married to Prince Charles, she wore simple dresses with soft colors for both work and pleasure, which contrasted sharply against most women at the time who were still dressing 'feminine' (tight skirts or fitted waistlines) by wearing stiff corsets. Her outfits showed an emphasis on carefree living rather than feminism or rebellion. The clothes she wore conveyed a sense of who she was rather than what her husband could offer.

Princess Diana also displayed her style and used it as a form of resistance when wearing clothes that did not match the standard protocol for royal dress, as many royal family members do with their uniforms at formal events.

Duchess Catherine: The newest member of this club is Kate Middleton, commonly known by Princess Catherine's title in England (but one less given in America), has been on every fashion magazine cover since marrying Prince William in 2011. She is often seen wearing designer clothing while visiting different countries which consist primarily of conservative cuts but unique patterns or textures."

Zoot Suiters: In 1943, during WWII, there was increased racism towards the Mexican community due to many of them coming into America for jobs. The zoot suiters wore their clothing style to express themselves and be proud of who they were, often seen by others as disrespectful or even criminal.

University of the Arts LondonUndergraduate Courses | London College of Fashion

How does media shape our perception of what is fashionable?

It is often said that people look to popular media for inspiration on what's fashionable and then follow suit. This means that they will read magazines or watch TV, see an outfit that someone else is wearing and think it looks nice, so decide to wear it themselves.

Another school of thought believes fashion represents a personal choice - the wearer may be expressing their identity through clothing to fit into a certain group or just because they like how clothes make them feel.

Fashion is a reflection of the individual's sense of self and identity. It gives people a vent to express themselves while at the same time establishing their own set of values or beliefs in how they want others to see them. Although fashion trends come and go, we can all agree that what matters most is finding confidence in yourself as you dress for this day and age.

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