The One Liner

This/That: Changing perceptions of dress over time

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In this article, we will dive into the damaging effects of societal judgments and explore ways to promote open-mindedness in dress perception.

Let's dive right in..

Ever attended a wedding, feeling absolutely confident and proud of your chosen attire, only to be met with disapproving glances from judgmental people around you? 

It’s like suddenly becoming the center of attention in a fashion police show, where everyone becomes a critic. 

Your excitement about expressing yourself through your clothes quickly turns into self-doubt. 

In a world where people constantly judge and criticize each other, one thing that gets criticised greatly is how we dress. 

People pay a lot of attention to what we wear and often have something negative to say about it. It’s like they’re always ready to point out our fashion choices and find fault with them.  

Fashion should be a celebration of self-expression, an opportunity to explore our creativity and individuality. Yet, instead of embracing the diversity of existing styles, we find ourselves stuck in a sea of judgmental remarks and unwanted expectations.

No matter the occasion, some people will always find us overdressed or underdressed, whatever suits their fashion stereotype the best.

So, to break free from this cycle of judgment and embrace a more open-minded attitude towards clothing, let’s explore fashion and its trend over time, factors influencing dresses in society, and how to promote open-mindedness in detail.

Let’s get started!

Indian clothing has changed over time.
Indian clothing has changed over time.

How has Indian clothing changed over time?

Over time, Indian clothing has undergone remarkable changes, influenced by various factors such as historical eras, cultural exchanges, and designers’ creative vision.

Let's get started!

The saree, crafted from various fabrics like silk, cotton, and chiffon, has epitomized elegance and grace for centuries, maintaining its significance to this day. 

In  Mewar, the renowned queen Rani Padmini, known for her exquisite beauty, had a penchant for wearing graceful saris. Her elegant attire captivated the hearts of many and popularized the sari as a symbol of timeless elegance.

During the Mughal era (16th to 19th century), Indian fashion experienced significant transformations influenced by Mughal aesthetics.

Remember the Anarkali suit you see people wearing to this day?

Flowing dresses fitted at the top and flared at the bottom, known for their regal charm, and opulent fabrics include silk, velvet, brocade, and intricate embroideries like zardozi and mirror work are the epitome of Mughal clothing styles and patterns.

Through the pages of a book and the magic of cinema, the character of Umrao Jaan emerged. Actresses like Rekha and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan brought her to life, showcasing embroidered anarkalis and shararas. These glamorous outfits became a trend, admired by women far and wide.

But with British Colonisation came the Western influence giving way to shirts, bottoms, and other tailored garments like dresses into Indian clothing styles.

Kurta Payjama
Dhoti for men
Dhoti for men

The dhoti for men transformed into the kurta-pajama ensemble, and the sarees led to the incorporation of elements like blouses and dresses into its design.

Post-independence in 1947, a renewed focus was on reviving and preserving India’s traditional clothing. 

Designers like Ritu Kumar, who established her label in the 1960s, emerged as influential figures in promoting traditional Indian textiles and techniques. 

While Kumar’s designs seamlessly blended classic Indian aesthetics with contemporary styles, earning domestic and international recognition.

In the entertainment world, Rekha’s magnetic persona and impeccable style made her a trendsetter. By embracing Kanjeevaram silk saris and combining traditional designs with modern influences, she became an icon, inspiring women to embrace the beauty of these exquisite garments.

In recent years, Indian fashion has witnessed a surge in creativity and innovation. 

On the global stage, Priyanka Chopra fearlessly embraced bold and experimental fashion. Her glamorous designer outfits, blending Indian and Western styles, showcased her individuality and inspired others to express themselves through fashion.

Within the realm of Bollywood, Sonam Kapoor emerged as a fashionista. With her impeccable sense of style, she showcased unique and modern designs, pushing the boundaries of traditional fashion. Her daring choices ignited a sense of exploration and creativity among fashion enthusiasts.

Designers such as Manish Malhotra, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla, and Anita Dongre have gained popularity for their unique eye for Indian clothing. 

These designers have revived traditional garments with modern silhouettes, vibrant colors, and intricate embellishments, appealing to a global audience.

 According to the Indian Brand Equity Foundation, the Indian fashion industry was valued at approximately $120 billion in 2020, with a projected growth rate of 10-12% per year.

Indian designers have also gained recognition on international platforms. 

For instance, Sabyasachi Mukherjee’s designs have been worn by numerous celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey and Priyanka Chopra. Manish Malhotra has dressed international stars such as Naomi Campbell and Michael Jackson.

The NMAAC Gala held in Mumbai on March 31st, 2023, by Neeta Ambani was a remarkable showcase of Indian Clothing and Culture. It was a first-of-its-kind costume exhibit, showcasing over 140 stunning pieces of India-inspired costumes that told the story of India’s impact on global fashion between the 18th and 21st centuries.

Celebrities like Zendaya, Tom Holland, Gigi Hadid, and Penélope Cruz were seen in attires designed by these Indian Designers.

5 factors that influence dressing in a society

As humans, the way we dress is often influenced by our society. We often look to those around us – friends, family, media – to see what is considered “normal” or “acceptable” to wear. This can lead to exciting trends in what we wear and why. 

Here are five prominent factors that influence how we dress in society:

Let’s get started!

1. Culture

Different countries and regions have their distinct style of dress, which is often influenced by their history and beliefs.

Traditional Japenese Dress
Traditional Japenese Dress
Chador, Iran
Chador

1.1 Cultural beliefs

In conservative societies, modesty may be highly valued, leading to dress codes that prioritise covering certain body parts or avoiding revealing clothing.

For example, traditional Japanese dress is largely influenced by the country’s cultural heritage and is still worn in many parts of Japan today.

In Iran, women often wear a chador, a full-body cloak that covers the entire body, including the head. The chador is commonly black or dark-colored and is worn over regular clothing. It serves as a symbol of modesty and adherence to traditional values in Iranian society.

Punjabi Traditional attire
Punjabi Traditional attire
Deepika Padukone in Chaniya Choli
Deepika Padukone in Chaniya Choli
Allia Bhatt in Chikankari
Allia Bhatt in Chikankari

1.2 Regional Influence

Clothing styles and patterns are highly influenced by the region and history, reflecting the cultural heritage and traditions across the country. 

For example- Punjab has an agricultural background, and loose-fitting garments like kurta, lungi, or dhoti allow for comfortable movement during farming activities. While the turban, known as pagri, holds cultural and religious importance for Sikhs and symbolizes honor, dignity, and courage.

Gujarat’s traditional attire, the chaniya choli, has historical connections to the region’s rich textile and trade history. Gujarat has been a center for textile production for centuries, and the intricate embroidery, mirror work, and bandhani tie-dye patterns on the chaniya choli reflect the region’s expertise in textile craftsmanship..

Tamil Nadu has a solid Dravidian cultural heritage, and the dhoti and saree are ancient garments worn for centuries. The attire reflects the region’s attachment to its cultural roots and showcases the grace and elegance associated with Tamil traditions.

The mekhela chador , the traditional wear of Assam, has evolved from ancient tribal costumes, and its handwoven designs showcase the craftsmanship and artistry of Assamese weavers. The attire is made of silk, which has been historically abundant in the region, and the motifs and patterns often depict elements from nature, mythology, and Assamese cultural symbolism.

Chikankari, a traditional embroidery style from Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, reflects the influence of region and history in India. Introduced during the Mughal era, Chikankari gained prominence under the patronage of the Nawabs of Awadh. It holds cultural and social significance, symbolizing the craftsmanship and heritage of Lucknow. The delicate and intricate embroidery, crafted on lightweight fabrics, provides aesthetic appeal and comfort suitable for the region’s hot and humid climate.

People of Tirumala, Andhra Pradesh
People Tirumala, Andhra Pradesh

2. Religion

Religious beliefs often influence dress codes, as adherents may follow specific guidelines or teachings regarding modesty and appropriate attire. 

Modest attire, which covers certain body parts, is often valued for expressing respect and humility towards that particular religion.

For instance, the hijab worn by some Muslim women as a symbol of modesty or the traditional attire worn by Orthodox Jewish individuals to honor their religious customs.

Sikh men commonly wear the turban (dastar) as a religious and cultural symbol, signifying respect and maintaining the hair uncut.

Situated in Tirumala, Andhra Pradesh, the Tirupati Venkateswara Temple is one of the most revered temples in South India. The dress code at the temple is strictly enforced. Men must wear a dhoti without a shirt or a towel, known as ‘Uttareeyam.’ Women are expected to wear sarees or traditional attire that covers their shoulders and legs.

3. Fashion Industry and Trends:

Trends in fashion are often driven by celebrities, influencers, and media. 

What’s “in” today may not be “in” tomorrow!

We’re constantly seeing new styles and silhouettes, and it’s up to us to decide which ones to follow. 

For instance, the chunky sneaker trend popularized by celebrities like Kanye West and Rihanna is now being replaced by more minimalist silhouettes like the classic white sneaker. 

Similarly, the skinny jean trend which has been popular for the past decade, is now being replaced by looser fits like the mom jean and the paper-bag waist jeans.

Puff sleeves have become increasingly popular, adding volume and drama to tops, dresses, and blouses. This style showcases a playful and feminine aesthetic, with sleeves that are gathered or pleated at the shoulders and create a statement silhouette.

Boyfriend jeans, one of my favorite trends, are loose-fitting jeans with a relaxed, borrowed-from-the-boys aesthetic. They sit lower on the hips and have a straight or slightly tapered legs. Boyfriend jeans offer a comfortable and effortlessly cool style.

4. Personal Preference:

Everyone is different, and everyone has a unique style. 

We all have our likes and dislikes when it comes to clothing, and it’s important to remember that fashion is an expression of our individual tastes and personalities.

What might be fashionable for one person might not be fashionable for another.

It’s essential to be aware of trends and the opinions of others, but it’s also important to be true to yourself when making fashion choices that suit your body type.

As a famous fashion designer, Steven Cuoco, once said:

"

Style is art, and fashion is everything. Personal expression should reflect the best of who you are and respected without being misunderstood.”

– Steven Cuoco

5. Climate and Environment

The climate and environment of a region can significantly influence dress choices. 

Just as a tree adapts to its surroundings by shedding or growing leaves, individuals adapt their clothing to suit the weather conditions and physical demands of their environment.

 In colder regions, people may wear thicker fabrics and layer clothing to keep warm, while lightweight and breathable fabrics are preferred in warmer climates.

For instance – Rajasthan is known for its arid desert climate and extreme temperatures. Women there often wear colorful, flowing skirts called ghagras or lehengas and an intricately designed blouse known as choli. The clothing is made of lightweight and breathable fabrics like cotton and silk to provide comfort in the desert heat.

Kerala, located in southern India, has a tropical climate with high humidity. The traditional attire includes garments like the white and gold-bordered sarees for women, known as Kasavu sarees, made of lightweight cotton fabric to keep cool in the hot and humid weather.

Bengal is famous for its distinct style of sarees, particularly the handloom cotton sarees known as tant sarees. Tant sarees are made of lightweight cotton fabric, which is breathable and comfortable in Bengal’s hot and humid climate. The sarees often feature intricate woven patterns and designs, reflecting the region’s rich weaving heritage.

The Pashmina shawl, a luxurious textile from Kashmir, made from the fine wool of Pashmina goats found in the Himalayas, offers exceptional warmth and insulation, making it perfect for the cold climate of Kashmir.

But, How do we Promote Open-Mindedness in Dress Perception?

In a world where fashion rules can feel suffocating,  letting our true style shine has become a great inconvenience.

Stereotypes have seeped into society, telling us what’s “acceptable” and limiting our creative expression.

But fear not, for we have ways to overcome these challenges, celebrate our differences, and encourage an open-minded mindset.

Let’s dive right in!

1. Challenging Stereotypes and Embracing Diversity

Harry Styles has a style of his own.
Harry Styles has a style of his own.

1.1 Gender Rules

Let’s start by questioning the traditional gender rules that dictate our clothing choices. 

Who says floral prints are exclusively for women or suits are solely for men? By embracing gender-fluid fashion, we empower ourselves and others to experiment with styles that resonate with our true selves.

Celebrities like Harry Styles rocking a fabulous floral blazer or actresses like Alia Bhatt and Deepika Padukone confidently donning a tailored suit are perfect examples that sometimes your style statement can help you create your own niche.

These simple acts challenge stereotypes, break down barriers, and pave the way for a more inclusive and accepting fashion landscape.

Lizzo, a great example of Body Positivity
Lizzo, a great example of Body Positivity

1.2 Body Positivity

Moreover, let’s debunk the myth that certain body types can only wear specific types of clothing. For instance, society often suggests that only slim individuals can pull off specific trends. 

But that couldn’t be further from the truth! 

Embracing body positivity means celebrating diverse shapes and sizes. It means encouraging individuals of all body types to wear what makes them feel confident and beautiful. 

Think of a curvy woman embracing a body-hugging dress or a muscular man flaunting a vibrant, patterned shirt. By embracing diversity in body representation, we foster a culture that appreciates and celebrates the beauty of all bodies.

A great example is Lizzo, the American singer and rapper, who is all about owning her curves and rocking bold outfits that challenge beauty standards. She’s all about body positivity and inspiring others to love themselves. 

Then there’s Vidya Balan, the Indian actress breaking barriers in the film industry. She embraces her natural shape, rocks comfy and graceful outfits like sarees, and encourages women to celebrate their bodies. 

She is so graceful while donning a saree that hardly any other actress can match her standards!

Jenifer Aniston at 50.
Jenifer Aniston at 50.

1.3. Fashion at 50

We can also challenge fashion stereotypes associated with age. Fashion is not limited by numbers on a calendar.

 Mature individuals can be just as fashion-forward and stylish as their younger counterparts.

Actresses like Jennifer Anniston and Julianne Moore, and Rekha quite frequently prove that Fashion-Over-50 doesn’t have to be boring.

1.4 Exploring various Cultural fashion

Another way to promote open-mindedness in dress perception is to explore cultural fashion. 

Traditional clothing from various cultures is often relegated to special occasions or labeled as “costumes.” However, embracing cultural diversity means appreciating and incorporating different styles into our everyday lives.

For example, Gigi Hadid wearing a beautifully embroidered saree at the NMAAC Gala was symbolic of the celebration of culture and respect for different traditions.

Key Takeaway

By defying traditional gender norms, embracing body positivity, and exploring cultural fashion, we take small but impactful steps toward a world where everyone’s style choices are celebrated and respected.

2. Avoid judging others, and Highlight the importance of comfort.

2.1 Let go of judging others

Consider the person who chooses to wear sneakers instead of high heels for a long day of walking, valuing their physical comfort over societal expectations.

One of the first steps in promoting open-mindedness is to let go of the tendency to judge others based on their appearance. 

It’s all too easy to make assumptions about someone’s character, intelligence, or abilities based on their clothing choices. But in reality, clothes are just a surface-level representation of who we are. 

By resisting the urge to judge, we open ourselves to understanding and appreciating the diversity of styles and preferences.

Hailey Bieber in Cargos
Hailey Bieber in Cargos
Gigi Hadid in trending white sneaker
Gigi Hadid in trending white sneakers
Saleena in Comfortable pair of Jeans
Saleena in Comfortable pair of Jeans

2.2 Prioritize Comfort

When we prioritize comfort, we prioritize our well-being and confidence. 

Imagine slipping into jeans that hug your curves just right or wearing a soft, breathable fabric that makes you feel at ease throughout the day. 

When we feel comfortable in our clothing, we radiate confidence and positive energy and can better focus on our passions and interactions with others.

As it is rightly said,

"

The most fashionable thing you can be is yourself. Embrace your individuality and defy societal expectations.”

– Zendaya

Key Takeaway

Resisting the urge to judge others and prioritizing comfort, we empower ourselves and others to choose clothing that allows us to feel confident, express our true selves, and engage fully with the world around us.

3. Encourage Experimentation and Self-expression.

3.1 Experimentation

Ever Happened?

You’re standing in front of your closet, staring at your collection of clothes. Sure, you have the go-to outfits that make you feel comfortable, but deep down, you crave something more. You want to break free from the fashion norms and regular wear and want something more.

Experimentation is all about shaking things up and having fun with your style. It’s about stepping outside your fashion comfort zone and trying something you’ve never dared to do before. 

You know those two patterns you’ve been told should never be worn together? Let go of caution and pair that cropped top with that funky floral skirt. Trust me; you’ll turn heads and make a fashion statement that screams confidence and creativity.

Practical examples always help, right? Just scroll through social media, and you’ll see people effortlessly combining vintage finds with contemporary pieces, layering unexpected textures, and mixing and matching styles from different cultures and eras.

3.2 Self-expression.

Fashion is the ultimate form of self-expression. It’s like wearing your heart on your sleeve, quite literally. 

You know what's great?

The world is full of fashion tribes that have fearlessly embraced self-expression. 

For instance, the vibrant LGBTQ+ community and its colorful ensembles speak volumes about love, acceptance, and pride. Or the punk movement with their edgy looks that scream rebellion and individuality.

Encouraging experimentation and self-expression isn’t just about us as individuals. It’s about creating a community that celebrates diversity, supports each other, and fosters inclusivity.

Key Takeaway

Fashion is all about having fun, embracing your authenticity, and making a statement that is uniquely yours.

Education makes you open minded about what you wear

4. Education is key to promoting open-mindedness.

When educated, we realize that fashion isn’t just about fabrics and trends; it’s a web woven with history, culture, and social dynamics. 

By delving into the stories behind different clothing choices, we can develop a deeper appreciation for their significance.

Take, for instance, traditional garments from around the world. Through education, we learn about these pieces’ cultural heritage and symbolism.

 From the intricate patterns of a kimono in Japan to the vibrant colors of a saree in India, each garment carries centuries of tradition and meaning.

But it doesn’t stop there! 

Education also encourages us to question the way things are done. 

It challenges us to think critically about the fashion industry and its impact on society and the environment.

For example, learning about the harmful consequences of fast fashion—its excessive waste, exploitative labor practices, and carbon footprint—empowers us to make informed choices and support sustainable alternatives. 

Museums and exhibitions showcasing fashion history and the evolution of styles take us on a journey through time, showing the diversity of styles gracing the runway.

Online platforms, fashion blogs, and social media communities can provide valuable learning opportunities. We can explore diverse fashion influencers and content creators who challenge norms and celebrate individuality. 

We can create a supportive and inclusive fashion community by engaging in conversations, sharing knowledge, and actively seeking out different perspectives.

Key Takeaway

By educating ourselves about different cultures, historical contexts, and the impact of our fashion choices, we can break free from stereotypes, celebrate diversity, and pave the way for a better fashion landscape.

Final Thoughts

Ever Happened?

In conclusion, taking steps towards challenging stereotypes and embracing diversity in fashion is transformative.

It requires us to step out of our comfort zones, embrace experimentation, and celebrate the beauty of individuality. 

By breaking free from rigid norms and societal expectations, we create an environment where everyone feels included, valued, and free to express themselves authentically.

"

Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street; fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”

– Coco Chanel

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