What Is Fashion?


Fashion is the ever-changing style of dress and accessories, a cultural phenomenon that permeates human culture. Clothing is a social symbol and reflects the values, beliefs, and attitudes of society. Fashions differ from country to country, as different age groups, social classes, and occupations establish their own established styles. In some societies, a person who adheres to the latest trends is called a “fashionista.”

The symbolic power of fashion has been well documented in literature, ranging from Shakespeare to Honore de Balzac to Oscar Wilde. Fashion can convey information about social class and sex, and it can also communicate an individual’s mood or emotion. For example, a suit can be worn to signal professional authority and status, while ripped jeans and a protest T-shirt may reflect a young person’s rebelliousness. Fashions can also reflect various life milestones, such as a wedding gown or a formal work uniform.

Despite its widespread use and the ubiquity of its products, the word “fashion” is often used to suggest superficiality and materialism. This is probably because the concept of fashion is so highly mediated: the media frequently covers fashion events, provides commentary on good and bad trends, and discusses the impact of the industry. Moreover, the cyclical nature of fashion makes it hard for any particular style to remain popular for long. As a result, any style that loses popularity is considered to be out of fashion. This creates a Catch-22, in which any style that falls out of fashion becomes instantly and utterly unfashionable.

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