Written by Dyami Millarson
Fashion and style may be used to convey a message to other humans. This may, for instance, be a political, diplomatic, emotional or sexual message. Fashion is never exclusively used for one purpose. An example of the complexity of fashion is that one cannot say that fashion only exists for sexual attractiveness, though sexual attractiveness does play a role in fashion as merely one of the many factors that influence the dynamics of fashion. Reducing fashion to one single factor is bound to lead to an erronous understanding of fashion and how it relates to human language.
Style may be defined as a distinctive appearance, and fashion may be defined as a popular style of clothing. Tastes change and so fashion and style change. However, what I am interested in is how fashion and style are being used to communicate. When humans have a certain style or wear a certain fashion, they are consciously or unconsciously sending a certain message. Humans make sense of everything. They are wired to interpret patterns. Interpreting is a human survival instinct.
The human faculty of interpretation is the reason why we look for meaning behind fashion and style. We interpret fashion ans style as having a message. This human tendency is why communication through fashion and style is inevitable. Once we have a formed a certain interpretation of a perception based on someone’s fashion and style, we may verbalise it. Language is thus a tool for us to express the message that we have already perceived on the basis of a person’s fashion and style.
Fashion and style are inevitably forms of human communication. Fashion and style are a primal language. How we interpret fashion and style is culture-specific, so there is not one universal language of fashion and style, but there are many such languages. This is what makes it so intriguing. It explains, moreover, why it is vital just to pay attention to fashion and style within a certain cultural context. The study of cuisine, religion and culture is part of our language project, and so is fashion and style. We consider human fashion and style to be essential to our language research.