|Masai Warrior istockphoto.com/DenGuy|
Why do people dress?One answer might be: "Because they are cold." That´s a good answer. Long ago, man learned to stay warm on chilly prehistoric nights by crawling under a leftover animal hide. Perhaps at some point he realized that by tying strips of skin together his fur blanket stayed on better. But that does not explain why he began to carve bone, antlers and ivory into adornments. Why at some point did primitive peoples divide into a diversity of cultures with tattoos (a form of dress within the skin), scarring rituals (a form of dress from within to the outside), hairstyles, piercing or other body modifications, body and face painting, nail designs, traditional clothing and perfume? Yes, even perfume is considered a non-visual "form of dress". Fashion is the more recent phenomena of cultural dress. Occasionally a classic will emerge, such as bluejeans or the little black dress. For the most part fashion is everchanging, sometimes at ridiculous rates, not static as is the case of traditional cultural dress.
There are several established focuses in fashion theory as to what creates fashion. These are based in the social sciences - anthropology, sociology, psychology - as well as cultural studies and history.
- Modern Anthropological: Man posesses an innate instinctual propensity for adornment and dress.
- Protection: Clothing choices change based on extremes in weather conditions.
- Modesty: To cover sexual organs. To avoid sexual attention from the opposite sex.
- Sexual Attraction, Seduction: People dress to seduce a mate.
- Zeitgeist : Fashion responds to social and political change. The miniskirt for example or the bra burning protests of the 1960s.
- Trickle-Down: Fashion develops in the upper classes and the lower classes aspire to it.
- Trickle-Across: Fashion develops in any of the social classes and transports to the others.
- Anti-fashion: Dress which is indifferent to or explicitly contrary to the popular fashion. This often cancels itself out when a rebellious style of dress becomes popular and thus becomes "fashionable".
- Symbolic Communication: Dress to send a message about how you feel or who you are.
- Postmodern: Man defines and redefines himself through dress in order to survive in a metropolis.