In every society, both in ancient and modern times, the culture of clothing and body make up is one that mankind has been with and cannot do without. This is to say that just as man over time has always depended on food to survive; he has also come to embrace fashion as he seems not to do without it. This is not to say that the relevance or importance of fashion is the same everywhere as culture across different societies, determine what fashion is or not.
What Is Fashion?
Fashion as a subject has no universally accepted definition as different scholars have tried to define it based on their belief of what the term ‘fashion’ is all about. While some restrict the definition to just the style of what men wear and every other thing that contributes to how man look, others include that fashion deals with as well things like furniture and lifestyle.
According to Cambridge Dictionary 2016, fashion is a style that is popular at a particulartime, especially in clothes, hair, make-up, etc.
Microsoft Encarta Dictionary 2009 has about five definitions of Fashion which are:
- Clothing styles: style in clothing, hair, and personal appearance generally.
- Business of styles: the business of creating, promoting, or studying the latest styles in clothing and hair.
- Current style: the styles of a dress, behaviour, way of living, or other expression that is popular at present.
- Manner: a particular way of behaving or doing something.
- Shape: the form or shape of something.
Simona in her article ‘What is Fashion all About?’ written for STYLISHCIRCLE, pointed out that fashion means evolution and is constantly changing. She went on to say that, ‘we always have new trends, new prints and new approaches.’ And I quite agree with her. The things you consider as fashion today, will surely give way sometime for new designs and styles. I would love to concentrate on the area of the things we put on- be it clothing or accessories.
Everywhere you go especially in the big cities around the globe, you would notice the different dress sense of the numerous people that come across you every day. Be it for Parties, Funerals, Religious gatherings, picnics etc, you see the work of fashion in display in colour, garments, materials etc.
What is fashion to some people may not be fashion to others as different people have different approach to the term ‘Fashion’. Some would cling to what is known as ‘regular’ fashion while others prefer to be more ‘ethical’ towards fashion. This is so because fashion goes a long way in telling people who you are, where you are most likely to come from, and so on. So, one tend to wear clothes with the intention of conveying a message to the world.
Fashion helps us to express ourselves and to reveal our personalities in a unique, exceptional and pleasant way. Through expression, fashion brings into plays the great aesthetic of art and true creative artistic expression through the different creation of styles done by designers.
Through fashion, we get to express our inner selves. Our mood can be expressed through the things we put on. For example, in most places in the western world, people who are mourning over the death of a loved one wear all black attire to express grief and sorrow.
Fashion also helps us to enhance our body. Wearing good and fitting clothes helps to make us good-looking, glamorous and pretty.
Choosing What to Wear
Before one chooses what to wear, it is very important to consider such things as personality, age, financial capability, body shape and height, position in the society etc. Like was pointed out in what fashion is, what we wear tells a lot about us. Again is the fact that what we wear can make or mare us. So here are certain rules to apply while thinking of trying out a trending fashion.
- While being fashionable or simply wearing clothing and accessories to look good, look out for clothes that add elegance to you and not ones that makes you look like a complete moron. Think of that awkward moment when you spend thousands on a particular clothe and come for a dinner party thinking you look great only to end up becoming an image of ridicule. Yes, nobody wants to face such a moment. So, before you wear a Clothe, hair, or go for a tattoo or body piercing, make sure it’s something that will fit and add extra beauty to you. Don’t wear clothes that are extravagant. Keeping it moderate has proven to attract more respect. Again wear colours that blend together.
- Choose clothing that fits the occasion. For example, in Africa, particularly Igboland, one does not attend an ‘Igba-Nkwu’ (traditional wedding) clad in Western Attire like a suit, no matter how costly such attire is. Same can be said for a Television presenter who doesn’t put on party clothes for an 8pm news broadcast. Don’t just dress for the sake of showing how rich or beautiful you are.
- When choosing what things to wear, go for those things that give you fitting. Let it be things that give you the freedom to express yourself. Don’t just buy clothes, wear a hair, pierce your body or get a tattoo simply because they’re in vogue. Remember that dressing to look unique attracts you more glamour than just joining the bandwagon in doing what everybody else are doing. Consider your height, body shape, and if I may add weight before wearing that trending material.
- Considering one’s personality is another thing to consider before choosing what to wear or not. It would be absolutely uncalled for if the First Lady of a country takes to dressing in a way ascribed to prostitutes. So one’s personality in the society determines what he wears and does not wear.
- Before choosing what wearable materials to buy in the market, consider your financial capability. There are clothes worth thousands of dollars and some very cheap to afford depending on quality. Don’t just go out there ordering for clothes or jewelry you will not be able to smile financially after purchasing. Don’t forget that many cheap clothes still look good when you wear them. If you are in a Country considered as a ‘third world Country’, there are markets where second-hand clothes and clothing materials are sold for just some pence. The funny thing is that many of the supposedly new, quality and costly materials in the market end up having less quality than some of those second-hand clothes. Also, if you are looking for a designer to make clothes for you and consider your finance, don’t just meet designers and agree to whatever fee they charge. Try to consider the best option in terms of cost of the clothes and how well the designers know their job. Some designers simply charge high for a job, while some who are more professional in designing clothes don’t ask you to pay that much.
- Consider your geographical locality before ordering for things to wear. In hotter Countries, people tend to wear lighter materials than in cold ones. Again in Nigeria for example where there is too much atmospheric dust, especially during the harmattan, it is advisable to go for dark colours- be it in clothes, shoes, bags, hats etc. Dark colours always soak in the pressure from dust or dirt than light colours.
- Consider whether to be ethical in approach towards things you’ll want to wear or to choose the regular kind of fashion which seems to be more popular today. Your approach towards things you wear matters a lot. In fact, I consider this to be the first thing to consider before choosing what or what not to wear.
If you are looking for new clothing styles to try out, but don’t know how to go about finding the right style that would suit you, there are loads of Fashion magazines, and fashion websites that can help you out with a choice. Also, the opinion of your designers matters a lot. They may not be right always, but you can’t as well be right always.
Try patronizing home-made designs more than foreign ones. That way, your fashion helps to promote your culture and identity, as well as add to your Country’s economy. If you are in Nigeria for example, an Igbo is known whenever you see one wearing an Isi-Agu (leopard head) or an Akwete material. Same goes, when you say, “that’s a Yoruba,” when you see one in Buba or Ashoke.
Remember to keep it modest, especially when you are not a celebrity featuring in a comic movie or when no occasion has called for a bit of extravagance.
This article was written by me and first published on Olaedo and Arts. I have the right to duplicate it as many times as possible