Role of Fashion in Distinguishing Gender Roles

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In the western culture, fashion has affected and reflected the distinctions between the social and economical status of men and women throughout the years. From the 19th century on, gender, social understanding of femininity and masculinity, became clearer and more precise. They were identifiable through fashion and clothing and were an important aspect in distinguishing roles of men and women.

However, changes in fashion will blur as much as emphasise the differences between gender, evolving in parallel borrowing from one another. Thus, as the constant changes in fashion, the level of differences between men and women varied very so often. Fashion was influencing and defining gender role and gender lifestyle was influencing fashion.

Masculine men and feminine women

The first signs of gender distinctions appeared at the start of the 19th century following the French Revolution. In addition to separating social classes, fashion now established a clear division between male and female clothing. Men were no longer powdered or perfumed and they got rid of ornaments and wigs, now signifies of femininity. Their clothing was characterized by a restricted use of material, tailored construction, simplified set of surface, uniformity, net and spotless garments, perfect hats and limited color (29 January). According to the trickle-down effect, fashion trends were still created by the upper-classes and were followed by others down the scale (05 February).

Then, according to Georg Simmel, two types of males emerged from the middle-class. Dandies were followers of the leisure class and never went against a particular fashion dress code while bohemian were rejecting fashion (05 February). Men of the upper-class are characterized as a Flâneur by Walter Benjamin: “Empathy is the nature of the intoxication to which the flâneur abandons himself […]” (05 February). The upper-class still needed to follow three rules in order to stay on top and keep the...
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