Modern people generally dress in pretty much the same manner. There is usually a more formal attire when we present ourselves for work or business, and a less formal mode of dressing when at home or during our own private hours.
In most pre-modern cultures, fashion is more diverse. Choice of clothing is, however, restricted. Different styles of dress depended on diversity in ethnicity, tribal grouping, nationality, social status or profession. When we, the children of the modern era, look back upon historical fashions, we wonder at the impracticality of the dress sense of our ancestors -- their long cumbersome robes, elaborate head-dresses and the hours they waste each day to create their curious hairdos.
Yet it seems modern man himself also seems to have little choice in determining what is to be worn. In spite of all the boasting about modernization, freedom of speech enlightenment of giving up useless, old traditions, and also the free choice of action, we are nevertheless social animals reduced to merely following the crowd in pursuing standard norms. This is certainly true with regards to fashion, and we do not really stop to think that certain articles of clothing that we wear as daily habits, are often of little practical use, and in fact, may prove to be troublesome or a hindrance in our daily activities.
Take for example, the tie that goes along with a smart shirt in office attire. Critics supporting fashion will say it is a necessary item that is a pre-requisite for official business and formal occasion. Yet what defines formal attire exactly? Is it not a standard that is also set and controlled by modern man? In truth, the tie gets in the way when dining at the table, takes a lot of time to tie around the collar when one is in a hurry and serves no other obvious purpose, other than to make the wearer supposedly look smart, which again, is a subjective value.
Office workers insist on wearing a blazer coat over their shirts. In a tropical and equatorial country like Singapore, unless one spends all his or her time in an air-conditioned room with artic temperatures, there is little justification in wearing a blazer coat at all. What is more, prolonged wearing of a blazer coat causes un-necessary sweating that can cause skin rashes and other similar health problems due to a lack of airing of one's skin and evaporation of perspiration. Again, fashion is a culprit in causing threats to one's health and un-necessary suffering.
For the sake of beautifying oneself, the high heels are a must for ladies wishing to show elegance and sophistication. Yet, research had already proven that prolonged wearing of elevated footwear causes un-natural and excessive pressure to be suffered by the balls of the feet. I need not add that women who are not careful when wearing the heels are frequently prone to sprained ankles and stretched ligaments. Also, in an age where terrorist attacks, tsunamis and earthquakes are realities worldwide, one must be prepared for meeting unexpected emergencies such as floods, fires or any other life threatening situation. Yet, high heels obviously prevent the wearer from being able to run or move fast when needed in times of danger, thus causing a direct hindrance to the wearer and perhaps to others. In enhancing beauty, which again is subjective, un-necessary risk may be caused to one's life.
Lastly, we spent considerable sums of money just to pursue the so-called latest trends in fashion and dressing, which we justify by claiming to have good taste when coming to the choice of clothes. Little do we realize that so called latest fashion trends are in fact subject to the artistic whims of fashion moguls whose ultimate objective, of course, is in driving up profits. So, men and women alike spent fabulous sums just to wear a label with branded names behind their backs of their otherwise normal clothes cut from ordinary fabrics.
Are we slaves to modern fashion then? This is a question that each individual ought to seriously ask oneself.
About the Author:
The writer has a M.Sc in Strategic Studies and is a member of the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), London. He currently writes commentaries and analysis articles on international affairs, security issues and terrorism for newspapers.