If you've just stumbled onto this blog, please forgive the appearance; it's still under construction. If I've used one of your photos (found on Google) in a lecture and you don't approve, please write a comment and I'll remove it.

The purpose of this blog is to explain the basics of art and culture to English language learners in secondary school in Slovakia. This is not for profit. If you look to your right, you'll see a long list of topics that I plan to cover. This is a large project that will most likely take years to complete, covering some topics I know little about (like dance), so I will be borrowing heavily from other experts, with their permission, giving credit wherever possible. Please be patient, and, of course, all advice is greatly appreciated.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Introduction to Fashion & Style

Fashion refers to the aesthetics and various styles of clothing, accessories, hair, makeup, body piercing, tattoos, furniture, and interior decoration.
There are many styles of fashion, just as there are different styles of houses, and many artists develop their own unique style. Fashionable, stylish, trendy, and chic (pronounced sheek) all mean the same thing (popular, and in style at the moment), but fashion and style are a little different. Fashion is a topic, representing an ever changing series of trends, or fads. A style is one particular look, or aesthetic, which might go in and out of fashion at different times. When an old style comes back in fashion, it's called retro or vintage, for example, bell-bottom jeans (now called boot-cut):


Origins: Scientists don’t know when people first started wearing clothes. By studying species of lice (vši)

that live in clothes, some scientists have estimated we’ve been wearing them from anywhere between 42,000 to over 100,000 years. Some of the oldest sewing needles ever found are about 60,000 years old.

Function: Clothes improve comfort and protect us from the elements, such as sunburn, wind, cold, rain, snow, and insects that bite. They also protect people when playing sports and at work. Protective clothing wards off chemicals, weapons, and abrasive (brúsny) materials.

Some of the most impressive clothing people have invented are space suits,

diving suits,
shark suits,
fireman uniforms
fire proximity suit

Types of Clothes

Clothing can be categorized in different ways. In shops, they're separated by men's, women's, and children's. There are indoor and outdoor clothes, seasonal clothes, formal and informal/casual, active/athletic clothing, pajamas (PJ's), swim wear, etc...

There are actually several stages from formal to informal. The definitions keep changing, as rules have relaxed, since the 1950's.

Formal Wear/Dress: This is worn at weddings, elegant parties, and dances. Nowadays, this means a tuxedo for men and an appropriate evening gown for women. At a dance, or ball, a woman might wear a ball gown, great for spinning around:

1954, Christian Dior

For men, the event might specify a white or black tie. A white tie event is more than just the bow tie. The man has to wear a coat with tails and a top hat. Formal wear originally meant "white tie":

This man is in formal dress. That means he's wearing formal clothing.
He's not in a dress. He's in dress.
Semi-Formal Wear/Dress: The idea of semi-formal clothing started in 1886 when British Prince Edward VII wanted something more comfortable to wear at dinner. He had his tailor, Henry Poole & Co., make a new suit. This suit made its way to New York, where it was worn at the Tuxedo Park Club, and became known as the tuxedo. Over time, the tuxedo became standard formal dress, and semi-formal now means a dark suit and tie.

A suit consists of a coat and matching pants. Depending on how others are dressed, you might want to dress conservatively, sticking to a black suit, and white shirt:

You can wear a suit and still look like a rock star

For women, semi-formal means wearing a cocktail dress - something appropriate for drinks with friends before dinner, pretty, but not too elaborate.
Business Dress: It's the same as semi-formal, for men, but for women it means a coat and matching skirt (or pants). The main thing is to look professional, serious, and conservative, meaning no wild colours. This is what many offices expect workers to wear:

No rock stars here, please, unless it's the music business...

Business Casual: This typically means taking off the coat and tie, and allowing a little more color for women. This is for offices where clients don't come in very often, and everyone just sits at their computers all day. You still need to tuck in your shirt and don't wear jeans, unless you clear it with the boss. This guide says it all:

Sunday Best: This means you wear the best clothes you have for church on Sunday.
The Obama family in their Sunday best.
Casual: This is what you wear everyday in your free time. Basically, the only rule is to cover enough of your body so that police won't arrest you.
Don't they look happy?

Slob: A slob is someone who doesn't take care of his appearance. Slobs don't dress nicely or clean their homes properly. It's fun to joke about, but if you want to be respected, you shouldn't be a slob.

Comedian Ron White jokes about being a slob,
but he dresses pretty well.
Social Function of Clothes

Clothing helps indicate social norms and status. What we wear tells a lot about society, what we accept

and don't accept.

It reflects how we view gender - men and women.

Clothing can also reflect your personality, your personal style and taste. It can give clues to the kind of person you are, or want to be. It helps build your identity, especially teenagers. But, be careful not to judge based only on appearances! People often surprise you.

Clothing can indicate religion, and ethnicity. Clothing worn by Christian priests and ministers are called vestments. There are many different kinds.

Orthodox Jews wear a variety of clothing. Black is worn in public as a sign of modesty. One unique feature are the two long curls of hair, one on either side of the face:

Jews also often wear a skull cap called a kippah, especially during prayer:

In muslim countries, rules of modesty, called hijab have led to a variety of clothing for men and women. headscarves are popular in Pakistan and Afghanistan:

Burqas are also worn there by conservative women:

The chador is worn in Iran:

The niqab is worn in Syria and Saudi Arabia:

Men wear a turban, which has many different styles. This kind is called a keffiyeh:

Women in India (hindu and muslim) traditionally wear a dress called a sari:

 And, men in southeast Asia often wear a skirt called a sarong. They usually have a colorful, checkered pattern:

Another skirt worn by men is the Scottish kilt:

In America, there are a group of Christians called Amish who dislike modern technology. They live as farmers, and wear clothing they make themselves, in a traditional, modest, Amish style:


Some people choose not to wear clothes. They live in nudist colonies, now known as naturist communities. These are meant to be inviting and family oriented, not erotic. They're popular in France.


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