Clothing Fashion: Dress Code vs. Free Expression
Clothing fashion has changed over hundreds-of-thousands of years as we humans have evolved; however conventional dress code fashions are not more mature than free individual artistic expression or even good-old-fashioned nudity. Snobs permeate all cultures and periods, and insist on defining culture by criticizing what ‘is not to be worn or done’. Those people always will come off as over-bearing assholes to anyone that has their own ‘minority’ opinions about life within a ‘culture’. One thing to remember, is that cultures are always changing as ongoing amalgams of previous cultures and new trends.
I have often heard closed-minded critics talk about ‘fitting in with social norms’ as a sign of maturity. The claim that maturity is indicated by clothing fashion is false. Some mature people prefer nudity to any type of clothing. The shallow surface concept that ‘appearance and first impressions are everything’ keeps us mentally medieval. As a fan of the Middle Ages, I know that is kind of an insult to history to compare it broadly to social ignorance and bigotry against those that look different than our own groups that we use to identify ourselves. Most people just accept the popular conventional fashions in order to blend in, and be part of ‘what is acceptable’. The irony is that this visual tradition is all a psychological illusion.
Suit-and-ties are a dress code uniform certainly meant to indicate business respectability; but many unethical people wear them, so to me it is simply a way to separate people that do not want to dress that way, from those that want to wear suits and control everything. Often we are told by institutions that dress codes are needed, so that we can tell who is ‘in service’ to whom, and so that co-workers can feel that despite individual differences in personality or genetics all workers are equal or ‘in it together’. Sure that made sense during the Renaissance maybe, but I was brought up in the 1980’s; when Mr. T said “Don’t where someone else’s brand name label, be creative, express yourself, and wear your own name!” I agree that we should not be labelled by ‘Tommy Hellfinger’ or anyone else.
We have not yet evolved as a society to not pre-judge people that simply dress different than we do. Perhaps we can start now, to stop insisting that everyone should look a certain way. Old ties make great rags. We are all naked under all our clothes.
Reasons to wear clothing: Practicality, affordability, durability, duty, obligation, symbolism, what fits, memories, associations, environmental and civil rights issues regarding manufacturing, and trend. Trend is the worst reason to wear clothing, as it is the most superficial aspect of fashions.
Cultural appropriation is naturally acceptable, and never has been stopped for very long, even by martial law. Many ignorant people, including historians, do not understand there is a difference between FORCING a culture on people, and ACCEPTING bits of a culture into your heart and way of living your own life. Even people that are labeled ‘posers’, may have a way of life that revolves around fashion or humor, and it may be temporary or permanent immaturity of intellect, which is part of who they are. Dress codes are part of social and cultural norms, and free expression is a naturally occurring deviation from those norms, that in some cases over time gets enough supporters to make it part of the new cultural majority (that then will have rebels that want to not wear what they are told is normal).