Dress as Communication



During the lecture, Deen (our lecturer) began with questioning the class, “what are clothes for?” “To protect, keeping you warm, modesty…so on and on…” Later on, Deen elaborated each answer followed by history debates, which allowed us to know there were (or are) exceptions in the world’s clothing context. For instance, Naturalist Charles Darwin’s investigation in Yahgan people for their specific cultural ways of keeping themselves warm other than put on layers of garments.

Other than the reasons of function and practicality of clothing, we started to discuss the perceptual meaning of clothing. Elements that evoked my ways of thinking about certain subject were corsets, I instantly feel its use for shaping your body in an aesthetic way, appeal sexuality; Chinese foot-binding shoes, which it reminds me of my grandma, she always yelled at me to wear slippers when I was little (which they believe this will help to control the shape of your feet), and explained to me that girls with big feet are less valuable; platform shoes from a Japanese sub-culture, I was thinking the word “desire”, as in general Asians have slimmer and shorter bodies compared to westerners, it’s a desire to become taller? I would name the above as the “feeling” of clothes, how you feel about yourself and how you feel others to feel about you.

In the context of modesty we have also contrasted with sexual availability, clothing for modesty (covering) in different occasions such as weddings, funerals, or religious meaning; whereas sexual availability (exposing) as in desire to show the body. I questioned myself innerly, why covering you with clothes means modesty, what does modesty truly mean? During the ancient period, humans merely cover themselves, does modesty relates to civilization? If there really are aliens in the universe, I wander if they would cover themselves with clothes and value modesty as much as we do. But of course, it is just my imagination out of the blue. Author of the book, The Psychology of Clothes, mentioned about three reasons to motivate dressing: to protect, in desire of showing the body and the desire of modesty. He also answered my question as saying; modesty is constructed by the social.

Going back to the early twentieth-century, to be able to dress shows one’s wealth and class, distinction and privilege. The social started to value massively about the term status and individuality; referring back to the present, there are certain concepts remained in the society, but as my experience in working in high jewellery industry, I have also seen wealthy individuals who preferred to dress casually. What I am trying to convey is, in this twenty-first century, people also started to value on the “inside”. In Deen’s lecture notes, I particularly agreed with the following, “The point isn’t that the adventure clothes are cheap, they aren’t, but they don’t shout money, they say I take risks and I have taste.”

Alison Lurie, in her book, The Language of Clothes, argues that we apply clothes to create statements; and Damhorst demonstrates a model to distinguish clothes’ materials and their condition. All of this reminds me of Yohji Yamamoto, wearing his clothes have a passive statement of not to conform, the dark tone of voice with textured and high quality fabrics allowed the wearer to feel a certain calmness and confident, the freedom of spirit, the enigma, modesty and equality. Clothes might not be enough to define who you really are, but I believe your taste does, it shows a lot of your values and beliefs.

In this discussion, I am aware the difference and relationship between clothing and fashion, clothing is a tool and fashion is like the magical powder, people who owns both elements have their own way to tell their story. Fashion has a meaning of trends, styles, trendy, the world of fashion, etc., whereas clothing is the object, garments, etc. They could link to show your taste, beliefs and values, and they could also have a function of constructing part of your identity.


Cindy Crawford. (2016). [image] Available at: http://topfashionmodels.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/cindy-crawford.html [Accessed 6 Nov. 2016].

October, D. (2016). Dress as Communication.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s