What Is Fashion?

Fashion is a way of dressing, or the style in which something is worn. It can also refer to a prevailing custom or practice, as in the phrase “the fashion of the times.” Fashions are often dictated by cultural values. It is commonly assumed that changes in fashion reflect social change, and that lower classes imitate upper class styles (known as the trickle down theory of fashion). It is also possible for business people to promote clothing trends for profit, which may be harmful to society.

Clothes reveal the identity of their wearers, forming stereotypes and creating distance between groups. For example, a boy with green hair and multiple piercings may be regarded as a rebel by one group of people, while others admire him for his individuality and nonconformism. In high school, groups are identified by names such as goths, skaters and preps. Fashion is influenced by media, such as music and movies, and by famous people who become fashion icons. For example, Jacqueline Kennedy and Diana, Princess of Wales were known for their elegant fashions.

Some clothes are made for individuals, as in the case of haute couture or bespoke tailoring. In general, however, most garments are made for the mass market. They may be purchased in stores, as ready to wear (RTW) or fast fashion. Fashions may be modified or redesigned for different purposes, such as functional fashion, performance apparel or religious attire. In addition, there is a wide variety of fashion accessories that can be used to enhance or modify the look of a garment.