Fashion is an artistic expression, in a particular context and time, of clothes, footwear, accessories, cosmetics, hairstyles, and physical body proportions. From the everyday usage, the word simply means a definite appearance defined by the fashion business as what is the latest fashion at that time. Today, we can say that “ashion” has become a generic term to denote anything fashionable, hip, and chic. However, it is quite difficult for the majority of people to distinguish between fashion and haute monde, considering that both are subjective terms.
The word “fashion” actually derives from two Greek words, referring to dress and to mode. The first word, period, referred to women’s dress, while the second word, toupees, referred to mode, or classical fashion, which came from evening and French classical literature. In the late nineteenth century, fashionable dress became associated with fashionable and cool attire. Thus, the term “fashion” was applied to describe the changing perception of fashion, from an eighteenth-century French thinker to an early twentieth-century English writer.
The word “fashion” today is generally used in non-academic contexts to refer to a fashion show, evening party, movie night, or a particular style of dress. However, in the past few decades, fashion has increasingly become an academic discipline, with many fashion designers producing important journal publications and more recently publishing book titles on this ever-changing, but ever-popular subject. In addition, several design schools have developed curriculum vitae that are required for obtaining a degree in fashion design, with most of these requiring extensive studies in order to pass. Consequently, a large number of students drop out of college before completing their courses and receiving their degrees, although many find employment and full-time employment after graduation.
One of the most popular areas of study in the fashion department at colleges and universities is women’s and men’s fashion, with most curriculums now including a strong focus on this topic. Women’s and men’s fashion is distinct, yet both are steeped in history and tradition. Traditionally, women’s clothing has been considered more versatile and less utilitarian than men’s, which contributed to the popularity of auteurs such as Dior and Givenchy, whose clothing has always been considered feminine, even if it included very masculine accessories and garments. Men’s fashion, on the other hand, focused on work-wear, outerwear, sportswear, and accessories; the avant-garde fashion of celebrities like Robert Pattinson and Sir Paul McCartney, who have become household names thanks to their unique clothing and attitude, has also contributed to men’s fashion’s current renaissance.
The nineteenth century saw major changes in the types of materials and manufacturing methods used to make clothing. For example, dressage became an important tool in equestrian dressage when clothing was improved by the introduction of dressage clothing. Also important was the development of tailoring, which helped create a new set of clothes for men that were much better for cold weather conditions. In the late nineteenth century, with the Industrial Revolution, men found that they could produce clothing on a large scale and the styles of clothes began to vary from the heavy, industrial coats of the early age to lighter, work-like garments. These changes sparked a new fashion in men’s fashion: casual and trendy.
The fashion trends of today are still influenced by fashion trends of yesteryear, but there is far more interest shown in the styles and cuts of clothes as well as the fabrics they are made from. This makes fashion much more accessible to all ages and demographics. Many young adults, for example, prefer to wear clothing that looks and feels casual rather than working-person clothes that are thick and overly protective. A popular trend that is common among young adults is to try new trends as they arise, a trend that can take decades to become common and established, but will always be a part of fashion and is easily adapted or discarded whenever the current fashion trends change.
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