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Interconnection between Gender and Clothing in Society

Discuss about the Gender and Clothing are Linked Phenomena for Appearance.

Definition of man and a woman is connected to their appearance and appearance is indeed tightly connected with clothing. With the growth and development of society, science, economy and politics; people now-a-days look for unconcealed discrete beauty. In this modern society of 21st century, the culture of highlighted personality is greatly considered by the people all round the globe. In this era, clothing of men and women are very much alike than that was earlier. The pattern style, colors are all same, but in this context, clothing for both men and women are still culturally defined. The cultural expectations and norms are linked with the meaning of being a man or a woman and they are very closely linked in terms of appearance (Murrmann 2015). This paper is going to elaborate on the phenomena that gender and clothing are interconnected.

In Indonesian countries, both the sexes wear sarong, which is a good length of cloth that is wrapped over the body to form a tube (Buckridge 2014). While in West Africa, both men and women wear wrappers- a rectangular piece of cloth that is tied around the waist. Similarly, the Scottish kilt is still worn by them at several social gatherings in order to form a cultural or social identity (Ray 2015). This also symbolizes the height of masculinity. In the North American culture, sarong, kilt or wrapper is rarely worn by the men, except in film or theater or any fashion show.

Formerly, clothing style and gender have not always been fixed. They have enjoyed several latitudes (Ahmed et al., 2014). Hence, discussion about clothing and gender from an ancient viewpoint encourage awareness of the shifts concerning proper clothing for females and males. For example, conception of pink color is for bay girls and that of blue is for baby boys has not always been the same in every case. In fact, in 1918, the color rule was entirely different. It was indeed blue for the girls and pink for the boys (Grisard 2016). At those times, blue was interpreted as delicate and dainty; whereas pink was considered as more assertive and stronger.

Through an analysis of the historical changes in the dressing style of men and women in Western countries during the 20th century, changes in the social meaning of clothing and its relationship with the gender can be easily understood (Autostraddle, 2018). During the 1950s, both the genders used to follow a strict code of appearance that was limited to subdued and neutral color patterns, angular design lines, less tight and natural silhouettes, bifurcated garments such as pants, well built shoes and fabrics along with simple hair style and face grooming (Ainsworth 2014). These were related to a focus on social, political and economic accomplishments, instead of providing attention towards changes in the fashion. Expect the necktie; the dress codes prevailing at those times did not obstruct any physical activity. The negative influence of conformity and infirmity is that the males may dress in order to secrete the aspects of their very identity is not always true of females. The business attire or their uniforms are linked to a display of power that is facilitated by uniform nature of the dress. Mumford (2013) has pointed out that the uniforms strive a degree of control over the people who are bound to carry out the work of an organization, or are to encourage the members in order to express their ideas and interests, instead of their own. Thus, in this way they promote the ability or the potential of the groups in order to perform their tasks. The opportunities that men get at their workplace to relax on the casual Fridays have not rescued them from the load of conformity because they often adopt a Levi or Gap’s uniform of the khaki pants and polo shirts (Reed 2015). Such a symbolic obedience to their work further signals for a privileged ingress or access to political and  economic power in the post industrial society of occupational success. The traditional dress-for-success impression of women in the 1980s could be assessed as an impression cue, which announced the intentions of the women in ascending the ladder of the corporate world.

Historical Changes in Clothing Style and Gender

Women on the other hand, had a much more elaborated fashion style and code that signifies that they were allowed to wear some of the dresses that men wore. Like, in today’s world, while men always wear pants and trousers; women wear both skirts and pants. In earlier days, (which may still exist in some rural areas), both men and women used to wear dresses which were similar in great terms (Keun 2002). As discussed above, in parts of Indonesia, Africa both men and women used to wear sarong and wrapper. But in this modern world, women have an unlimited choice of colors, fabrics, design lines, silhouettes to wear, which men cannot wear as they people perceive them to be feminine (Jovandic 2017).

Historically, the standards of clothing emphasized the roles played by both the genders. Males were more focused on displaying their masculine beauty of resoluteness, strength and sobriety; whereas the females were expected to be blessed with feminine beauty of being kind, soft, gentle and ladylike. By the end of the 1990s, the neutral garment has become one of the most popular closet and by 2000, it has further transformed to widely expect as well. With a rapid development of society, along with rapid promotion of the rank of women in the society, there is also a rapid increase in no specific role confirmation for both the genders in the society in context to their profession. In present days, the use of neutral garments not only satisfies the self-confidence of the women in social competition but is also making the males enjoy the joy of fashion. Jeans, T-shirts, and pants fall under the category of neutral garments; colors such as white, grey and black falls under the category of neutral colors and dying of hair and short hairs fall under natural hairstyles. In other words, neutralism has become a trend in this 21st century.

The characteristics and qualities that we perceive in relations to gender are intrinsic by nature (Karwowski et al. 2013). Emotional behavior was stereotyped as being feminine and physical strength was stereotyped as being masculine feature in the countries all over the world. Any straying from these expectations is enough grounds for isolation and detachment.

The clothing styles and fashion trends significantly contribute to the social construction of genders. The presence of any standard for making judgment on beauty spontaneously appoints some of the groups to get in control of the others. Individuals are continuously judging each other in order to make sure that they are fitting into the correct classification of gender (Wolf 2013). Trendy and hip clothing are especially made for a particular minority group of females who are small-breasted narrow-hipped, skinny and tall. There pressure of fitting into such styles of clothes is producing insecurities among them. These anxieties of the adolescent are very common in this present world and has the potential to produce depression, eating disorders and can even led to suicide. Fashion and clothing now-a-days is used as a device to confine the women to a complex and inferior social order. It is although not new. Throughout history the females are been isolated from the males by their fashion dues to the society (Philip 2014). They would even risk to chronic foot pain, spinal disorders and trauma due to high heels and submit to a continuous preoccupation of agonize over the approval of men in context to clothing appropriateness. Clothing in current era is playing an integral part in the way people judge each other in terms of the amount of money they have, the type of music they listen, the type of education they receive, notwithstanding the type of clothes they wear.

Impact of Clothing on Social Constructs of Beauty and Gender Roles

In many of the societies in the 21st century, gender is not regarded as a part of nature but is rather acquired as a ceremony of passage. In few of the tribal communities, obtaining gender status reflects responsibility and maturity. There is an unstated unity between the men and women of Australia that females will style their clothing as according to the part of the system that will favor the males. In a society where most of the women yet do not recognize the variation and imbalance of the genders, the extensiveness of the gender roles in many countries such as America and other Western country remains profound and perpetuated.

Hence, it is to be concluded that gender as a cultural and social construction needs demands that is the correct sustains to effectively convince the public or audience that the gender presentation of a person is genuine. The dress that are worn by the present generation is layered along with many different meanings like that of gender socialization through dress codes and gender, culturally proper gender behavior, the traditional perspectives of gender and dress, social resistance, gender markers and dressing part of owns’.

References:

Ahmed, J.U., Chowdhury, M.H.K., Uddin, M.J. and Ferdous, M.M., 2014. Sadakalo: marketing of traditional fashion in the modern fashion industry. Vision, 18(2), pp.125-135.

Ainsworth, J., 2014. What’s wrong with pink pearls and cornrow braids? Employee dress codes and the semiotic performance of race and gender in the workplace. In Law, culture and visual studies (pp. 241-260). Springer, Dordrecht.

Autostraddle. (2018). “Mädchen in Uniform”: Girl-on-Girl Culture Circa 1931. [online] Available at: https://www.autostraddle.com/film-history-is-queer-history-girls-in-uniform-125384/ [Accessed 14 Apr. 2018].

BUCKRIDGE, S.O., 2014. The rubaha, or Russian folk tunic, is a traditional Russian ankle-length, long-sleeved women’s clothing usually worn under a sarafan dress or a poneva skirt (in the manner of an underdress). Ethnic Dress in the United States: A Cultural Encyclopedia, p.250.

Grisard, D., 2016. Pink Prisons, Rosy Futures? The Prison Politics of the Pink Triangle. Queer Futures: Reconsidering Ethics, Activism, and the Political.

JOVANDIC, S., 2017. Uniformity vs. uniqueness: personal styles in contemporary fashion.

Karwowski, M., Lebuda, I., Wisniewska, E. and Gralewski, J., 2013. Big Five Personality Traits as the Predictors of Creative Self?Efficacy and Creative Personal Identity: Does Gender Matter?. The Journal of Creative Behavior, 47(3), pp.215-232.

Keun, I. (2002). The Artificial Silk Girl (Das Kunstseidene Mädchen). New York: Other Press, p.pp. 194.

Mumford, E., 2013. Values, technology and work (Vol. 3). Springer Science & Business Media.

Murrmann, J., 2015. REVISITING ZNANIECKI’S CULTURAL THEORY: DIFFERENT FORMS OF CONTEMPORARY TOURISM IN TERMS OF THEIR CONTRIBUTION TO “THE WORLD CULTURE SOCIETY”. Folia Turistica/Akademia Wychowania Fizycznego im. B. Czecha w Krakowie, (37 Anthropology of tourism), pp.53-67.

Philip (Research Editor and New Dictionary Of National Biography) Carter, 2014. Men and the Emergence of Polite Society, Britain 1660-1800.

Ray, C., 2015. Highland Heritage: Scottish Americans in the American South. UNC Press Books.

Reed, C., 2015. Disrupting and Reimagining the Workplace through Casual Fridays. New Errands: The Undergraduate Journal of American Studies, 2(2).

Wolf, N., 2013. The beauty myth: How images of beauty are used against women. Random House.

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