Fashion…isms

29 Dec

Can you speak fashion? Is it a language, learned like any other? Is it a necessity? Is it an art? Is it all three? Do we define its laws and standards or does it define us?

An “ism” is a belief, principle, or movement, and can be the defining attribute of something or someone. Fashion is built on -isms – on beliefs, on movements, on “defining attributes” – that it hopes the world will follow. So what are these -isms of this beloved fashion world? How do they come to be and how do they change?

Stunning Kate at the opening of Nine

Taking it as a language, fashion can be difficult to speak. What does it mean to be “chic,” to be “trendy,” to be “flattering” or have the “perfect fit”? – No, what does it actually mean for the real, everyday woman who simply wants to show off her best side? For instance, do we know how commonplace items like those that end up in malls become such, being derived and simplified from the high designs appearing on our runways? Where is the connection between what we have available to us and what we see on that runway? What can we get from the magazines, from the celebrities, who seem to know the latest trends before they become such, who seemingly create the trends themselves? How could we have predicted that Uggs would become a huge craze, that the colors of the 80s would reappear, that heels of epic heights would be established as essential in the wardrobe of every female, and how do we stay on top of these movements? It is not expected for every woman – or every man – to become fluent in the language of fashion. My hope is that this will serve as a guide – the Rosetta Stone of fashion if you will – so that together we can take meaning from every new development and allow this form of expression to be discussed objectively and openly.

In all people, there is a small, yet catalytic thought that sparks in their minds as they open their closet doors or their dresser drawers, as they sift through the pile of clothes on their floors or the racks in the stores, seeking to find an item or two or three that follows that particular thought, that particular -ism they seek to live up to today. Be it comfort, function, trend, style, self-expression, warmth, or whatever the reason we dress ourselves each day, there is a thought – either a tiny nugget of consideration or an explosion of possibilities – that causes us to choose what we do. More often than not, it goes beyond simple function. We live in a world where doors are closed to us if we are not wearing the right type of clothing. You simply can’t show up to a wedding in shorts, or dine in a fine establishment with a baseball cap. We can’t even enter the simplest of public places without the proper garments. We need suits to interview, suits to swim, we need pajamas to sleep in and uniforms to play in. And beyond that, these need to be current, flattering, and unique. How did this come to be so? More imperatively, what -ism will we follow next?

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