Fashion is the most powerful communication tool we have. Our style expresses who we are, what we think and our values. Our wardrobe is stronger than words, often forming the first impression we make when we enter a room and the last impression, when we leave the room. Interestingly, our fashion choices may not always be as conscious as we think they are.
Some of our style decisions are rooted in our subconscious. For instance, we may have a higher inclination towards the cuts and styles our parents wore. Nostalgia also contributes to our fashion preferences. We gravitate towards clothes that remind us of people, places or things that make us feel good. We seek to relive the best moments of our lives.
Many of us might recall the jacket or dress we wore on our graduation day. We may fondly remember the little black dress from our first date with our partner. A pair of pearl earrings or a beautiful broach keeps our loved ones’ memories close to us. When we dress in a classic, timeless way, we have the freedom to curate our look, adding a few pieces that remind us of our happiest moments. It’s these emotional attachments that compel us, attesting to the enduring power of fashion.
Fashion empowers us
The outfits we chose don’t just reflect our personal preferences, they also reveal our intentions, our aspirations and our focus. In this respect, putting together an outfit is similar to choosing social armour.
Fashion has the power to boost our confidence and self-esteem. In the 80s, women followed fashion that empowered them to take on a new responsibility at the office and pursue their career in male-dominated workplaces. Power suits allowed women to receive the same respect and authority as men. It was called power dressing. Nowadays, the need for genderless clothes is a reflection of equality between men and women. While fashion continues to empower women, the key to wearing clothes well is being comfortable with who we are.
Fashion improves our mood
Fashion makes us feel happy. It improves our well-being. It makes us feel good, beautiful and smart. It brings out the best of our personality. During Covid-19 we faced the need to take care of our appearance with tightening restrictions. Lynn Yaeger, Contributing Editor of Vogue, commented on the importance of fashion during COVID-19. She noted that “even if they can only view me from the neck up, I remain literally all dressed up with no place to go—a superannuated ballerina/fairy princess in an apartment full of vintage mirrors.” It’s this pageantry, this need for fashion in hard times that shows fashion’s greatest power, its ability to improve our moods. Yaeger referenced WWII, “when people were told to wear shiny ‘blackout buttons’ that attached to lapels so the wearer would be visible on the streets during a blackout, Selfridges responded by offering luminous flowers. Similarly, during the pandemic, we felt the need to personalize facemasks and create futuristic face shields, which helped boost our morale.
Fashion is an economic force
And perhaps, the biggest reason why we can’t live without fashion is its economic benefits. Fashion is a huge industry that employs millions of people around the world. McKinsey estimates that pre-pandemic fashion was one of the biggest industries in the world, yielding $2.5 trillion in global revenue. Fashion has become the number one industry in countries like Bangladesh. No doubt, emerging countries must improve the working conditions of their employees; however, the economic benefits of fashion in these countries cannot be denied. Workers, manufacturers, supply chain and retailers across the globe rely on fashion to drive growth.
These are just a few of the reasons why we can’t do without fashion.