Fashion – History’s Bread Trail

Just as the rings of a tree tell its age, fashion acts as that ring. Immediately seeing a particular style of fashion, you can, with most certainty, tell its age. Clothing has the ability to be an excellent indicator of time. When you turn on an episode of say, COPS, by examining the clothing and hairstyles you can almost immediately decipher the decade. The same can be said for when one is watching say a movie preview, is it a period piece? What era? All you need to do is look at the clothing and think back to your middle-school history class. Let us not forget to mention what intense and indelible effect clothing has on culture and society. The first thing we see has a tendency to say a lot about who we are as people, as well as a society as a whole. In the beginning clothing was about protection and heat regulation. There are so many theories as to why homo-sapiens (man) began to loose the hair covering their bodies. Perhaps no one wanted lice living on them and eating them alive. Whatever the reason, the shift has shaped culture, questioning what may be acceptable and challenging that which is not acceptable, in addition to its primary purpose of shelter for the body.

Marie Antoinette, a woman famous for her fashion sense and ability to create trends, indulged her passion for fashion. While prominent heads of state lived off the yearly wage of 50,000 livres, Antoinette spend double that, around 100,000 livres on her wardrobe alone every year. Although well known for her high style, she kept some of her more extravagant spending a secret from the King. Antoinette not only set trends and presented new ways to express oneself through fashion it may have been a secondary function to her spending. Antoinette was unable to bear children, frustrated and childless, she kept tails waging with her wild wigs and costuming, diverting attention from the fact that she could not produce an heir.

The period of 1911 to around 1925 saw a lot of change in the way of women’s rights as well as women’s hemlines. The social upheaval that occurred as a result of World War I created a shift in the economy, which also created a shift in society’s role for women. As men went off to war, women were left behind to rear the children, tend the home, and now more than ever bring home the bacon. After the war, the Age of Jazz was ushered in, an era when prohibition looms large and styles changed dramatically, creating quite the controversy in the streets. In 1910 the hemlines were ankle-length; in 1919 they hiked up to the mid-calf and finally by 1925 hemlines were all the way up to the knee. In the span of 15 years, men and women were exposed to more feminine flesh than previously experienced in history. As women fought for their rights, they also questioned what society told them to wear and how to dress. If they had to take on both role of mother and father, they had better wear whatever makes them feel good.

Since its conception, the movie industry wanted to uphold the values and morals of the time. In 1922 the industry created the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA), headed by the former postmaster Will H. Hays. Later nicknamed the “Hays Office,” was all about upholding the standards of society, which decent people valued, e.g., regulating what was acceptable to be seen in regards to violence, sex, hemlines and necklines. For a while it was a great self-governing system solution for the motion picture industry, though in the 1940s with WWII, saw a weakening in its governing strength. Independent movie producers like Howard Hughes created films such as “The Outlaw,” a 1943 western, starring Jane Russell that chipped away at the compliance of the board. Considered too sexual and provocative, Hughes cut many scenes, raised necklines, and later was granted a seal approval from the “Hayes Office,” but disgruntled by all the editing, Hughes shelved the project until 1946. In 1946 Hughes, in a strong act of defiance, released his film without any edits and experienced widespread mainstream success despite the board’s obvious disapproval. Finally, in the 1950s the board was disbanded and the ratings system we now have in place started to come to fruition.

During and after the sexual revolution, society saw severe shifts in the styles seen in the streets. Though in the beginning of the 1960s only the hippies were wearing and doing radical practices. As the decade went on, it was more about a self-made expression of social defiance. Hippies wore less clothing, louder styles and even created garments of their own design as an answer to war, hate, ignorance and the values of regimented society. The clothing embraced by the hippie community reflected influences of eastern philosophy, psychedelic rock music, drug experimentation and all other forms of alternative consciousness. It shocked suburbia and shifted the acceptable standards of dress, no longer would women have to leave the house with set hair, a full face of makeup, gloves a coat and of course a hat. After the 1960s women and men have enjoyed much more freedom of expression in personal style. Maybe we were all just happy that some people put their clothes back on, no matter what those clothes might be.

The 1990s were another decade enjoying a new sense of identity, courtesy of the fashion world. Widespread economic productivity, a new way to communicate via the internet and a clear shift in gender roles in industrialized countries worldwide all lent to fashion’s mainstream appeal. Instead of actors and actresses on our magazine covers, it was the faces of Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, Stephanie Seymour, Naomi Campbell, and Christy Turlington. High fashion’s heavy influence during this decade was certainly a bi-product of increased economic productivity. We started to watch runway shows on cable every Saturday morning, we wanted models in our gossip mags, and we defiantly needed their wardrobes. These big supermodels crossed all mainstream borders, appearing on the runways, as contract faces for the major labels, on TV and even in film. If not for these major crossovers, where would we be today? We would be without our Cameron Diaz’ and Charlize Theron’, both former models who have crossed the lines and influenced what we want to emulate in fashion.

Fashion is a force to follow, fueling the frenzy of civilization, questioning standards and crossing borders, acting as a permanent marker of what culture values and considers new or acceptable, feeding our dreams, fantasies, fears, and beliefs, and creating a piece of time to teach and test the ages.

Fashion Histories

Fashion history has become a popular pursuit in the past decade. Let’s take a look back at the history of some of our favorite designer watch brands. Festina watches have an illustrious history. Festina is a shortening of the company’s original name Festina Lente (Latin for “hasten slowly”). The company was founded in 1902 but the modern Festina watches weren’t born until 1984. In 1984 Festina was merged with Lotus watches of Spain to create the modern Festina watches we know and love. Festina watches are popular among athletes. This is because they have long sponsored the Tour de France, Tour de Suisse, and Tour de Romandie. If you know someone who is a fan of bicycle racing, I would suggest getting them a Festina watch. They will appreciate the gesture and they will have something to use when they are measuring their own bicycling times.

Guess watches have had a slightly more troubled history. Since the company’s founding in 1981, Guess watches and Guess clothing have been plagued by consistent reports and citations for use of sweatshop labor. They have paid large sums of money in 1992, 1997, and 2005 as a result of court settlements regarding unfair labor practices. It seems like as one set of allegations fades more come to light. The most embarrassing incident came in 1997 after Guess watches and Guess Clothing ran several full page advertisements claiming that sweatshop labor was in the past of the Guess Corporation. Later, however, the US Labor Bureau found these statements to be untrue, unrepresentative, and misleading. Guess was forced to retract the statements. Although Guess watches are beautiful, some people will not wear them for political reasons. This is something to consider when giving one as a gift.

Fossil (the creators of Fossil watches and recreational goods) is fairly new in the watch industry, having formed in 1984 and not beginning production of Fossil watches in the 1990s. Early on Fossil had an established corporate identity as a producer of adventure gear, so their first watches were designed with the outdoorsy woodsman in mind. As the company grew in the 1990s, they teamed up with other designers to create more conventional fashion watches. Fossil was smart in that it did not try to become something it was not. When it came time to make Fossil watches more fashionable, they weren’t afraid to hire known and established design talent, even if those designers were seen as outside the Fossil watches aesthetic. The company is valued at over one billion dollars, so whatever they do certainly works.

Fashion Advice For People Who Work at Home

Proper clothing helps workers perform their tasks to the best of their abilities. This holds true even if you happen to carry out your work at home. What are the top work at home professionals wearing today? After intensive research, these are the styles that made the list of favorites for successful work-at-home fashionistas.

Novelty Tees A must for every telecommuter or home-based entrepreneur is an assortment of tee-shirts that either:

  1. boasts of where you’ve been, where you want other people to think you have been, or where one of your friends or relatives has been
  2. advertises your business, your favorite beer, charitable event, restaurant or tavern, merchandise or casino
  3. expounds your personal or political opinion in a particularly charming, witty or sarcastic manner

Tee-shirts allow for ease of movement, are durable and somewhat stain-resistant and are great for the budget conscious. These fashion staples are often given to you as gifts, either by people who know your quirks or businesses you patronize. Females may prefer tank tops with informative slogans like “hottie” or “princess” emblazoned across the chest.

Comfortable Pants Just because you are home bound does not mean you have to stay in your pajama bottoms all day, though that is one good alternative. You could also choose to don yoga pants or sweats or even a favorite, appropriately faded pair of jeans, though there are some advantages to pants with elastic waists. These trousers promote good circulation and flexibility and don’t bind while you are sitting hunched over the computer. Shorts can be substituted when temperatures allow.

Outerwear When a tee shirt or tank just doesn’t seem like enough, many at-home professionals choose to top off their look with the addition of a sweatshirt or flannel. An oversized bathrobe is another option that is favored by those in cooler climates.

Sensible Footwear Polished professionals make sure they look good from head to toe. When the weather is chilly, a good pair of soft, furry slippers is a great way to complete your fashionable work ensemble. Of course, a pair of socks will work in a pinch. Summer footwear is optional, though it is wise to have a pair of flip flops easily accessible in case you have to go out and get the mail or walk the dog.

Functional Accessories There are many items that can fall into this category. A favorite coffee mug is one of them. Kept hot and steaming, this useful piece helps improve efficiency and morale. A caffeinated beverage of soda or ice tea also coordinates nicely. Other preferred accessories include M3P players, ponytail holders and doodle pads. If you work at home, you may want to try some of these style tips to help you improve your performance and your confidence level. Remember, it’s okay to express some of your own, unique personality by adding individual touches such as strategically placed stains, intricate holes or relevant rips.