Fashion is a mode of autonomy and self-expression in a certain situation and at a certain time, of attire, footwear, clothing, makeup, hairstyles, and other body posture and attitude. The word itself indicates a trend defined by the fashion industry when it comes to defining what is fashionable. It is up to you, the consumer, to determine whether or not a particular style statement fits your lifestyle. Even if you do not know how to identify a trend, there are many resources available for this purpose. Some examples of such resources include magazines, books, and websites.
In a case study, participants were asked (case by case) to identify what was “in.” This question was asked of participants in both Western and non-Western countries. A common response was “a good looking man dressed nicely” or “a well-dressed woman.” In order to further explore the distinction between “in” and “out,” we asked participants to additionally state whether they would be offended if they were ever required to wear a certain type of dress on a date.
In order to explore the dynamics of fashion trends among different groups within society, we conducted a secondary analysis using data from a national survey of adults (Nationally Repression Study; queried June 2005). The aim of this study was to compare fashion preferences for members of traditionally defined out groups with those of members of traditionally defined in groups. The results of this analysis showed that Black and Latin American individuals differed significantly in terms of their support for several different styles of dress. Specifically, Black people showed a strong endorsement for wearing hoodies (a common symbol of cultural belonging), while Latin Americans demonstrated a clear preference for clothing styles that were hip and trendy.
As suggested by the earlier case study questions, one way to analyze trends is to evaluate individual characteristics of individuals who are observed to fit various categories. In the case of the clothing styles used by members of the out group in our sample, we attempted to construct three types of categories on the basis of the clothing styles worn by members of the in group (i.e., formal, casual, sportswear). We chose to classify three types of dress based on the degree to which they promoted mobility, adaptability, and freedom. An example of a mobility-related style might be a coat that was long enough to cover the head and shoulders of the person wearing it. An adaptable style could be a coat that was designed to be comfortable for a variety of weather conditions.
The third category, comprised of styles that promoted freedom, represents clothes items that are more flexible and allow members of society the ability to choose how they would like to dress. These include items such as bikinis, tank tops, and skorts. Another way of categorizing fashion trends is by considering differences among groups in terms of cultural norms. For example, Asian youths tend to be fashionably inhibited when it comes to clothing choices. Thus, their styles would likely be different from those of other American youth. A question on a case study reading might need to address this cultural gap.
Case study questions about fashion and related topics have always been important for teachers and other school administrators. Today, many high schools and other school settings have websites that feature essays on the topic of fashion. Students can read these essays to gain insight into various trends in the fashion industry. As such, teachers can consider using fashion essays in order to teach students about the different facets of fashion and how these styles vary by culture and age.