Blog4: Simmel on Fashion

Georg Simmel sees fashion as an expression of individualization, an attempt to cultivate one’s distinctiveness or an uniqueness, and an attempt to express imitation and conformity. He goes on to say, the capacity for a particular fashion to create  a sense of distinction for the individuals who first adopt it is destroyed  as more and more people  practice it; as the fashionable difference is transformed into a commonplace standard. It is then replaced by a new trend and spreads around  and eventually dies in the end, until something new comes along.

Simmel believes that class has a great effect on who wears what according to the class hierarchy. Fashion is a visible and easily identifiable sign of class position, he says. However, as the lower classes set out to imitate those above them in “externals of life,” the upper classes necessarily must seek out an alternative form of fashion in order to maintain and express their distinctiveness.

In my opinion, I think that anybody is entitled  to wear what they want to wear,  not be judged or looked upon as a person who is just imitating, and has no individuality. I guess it’s a way of keeping yourself in the ninety-nine percent as oppose to being the one percent who stands out….


2 responses to “Blog4: Simmel on Fashion

  1. Excellent presentation of the key elements of Simmel’s theory of fashion, its dual and “processual” nature (in that its more like a *process* than a static *thing*). Like crime or stigma, for example, what’s “fashionable” depends on context, not on the attributes of a particular item of clothing.

    Your critique of fashion echoes others’ comments: that one should not be judged based on what they wear. But that’s what fashion is all about. (This doesn’t mean we go so far as to make inferences about people’s character or moral worth on the basis of their clothing.) People who are into fashion “dress to impress” and they’re always sizing up what everyone else is wearing (by “everyone” I mean other “fashionistas”). They want to be looked at and “judged,” in a sense, on the basis of their fashion choices. So this is a particular arena of social activity. And *fantasy* is a big part of it as well. In a way you could think of it as an opportunity for a member of the 99% *to be* a member of the 1%, like you said. But this can be seen in a more “democratic” light, assuming those who are not in the 1% in terms of wealth can stand out and achieve 1% status in the world of fashion.

  2. I agree with people being able to dress how they please and in which ever way best for them to truly express who they are. But I think it is unjust and wrong to judge someone but there looks especially if we don’t know them. I mean every face has a story and unless you know what someone has been through we have no right to judge them. Someone can dress extremely well and not have a sensible thing to say when they speak yet because they are dressed well and carry themselves a certain way we think highly of them.

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