Saturday, April 30, 2011

Perception of Fashion

Fashion historian James Laver invented an interesting timeline in 1937 that was published in his book, Taste and Fashion. He articulated our perception of style and the cycle of fashion.

I've been thinking about this a lot. I'm not sure this chart is accurate anymore because our societal understanding of fashion has evolved in the last 80 years, but conceptually I think it's pretty close. I just think the categories are a bit more truncated...

Laver's Law of the Cycle of Fashion
I found this chart in a textbook I used when I was teaching college. It's been on my mind because I've been trying to articulate my own understanding of fashion, and why I'm so uncomfortable with the fashion industry.

I'm not sure why I'm fixated on my dissatisfaction with the fashion industry, but I think it may help me understand the kind of person to whom I'm trying to market my wearable art. If I can understand why I don't like the concept of manufacturing clothing, I can verbalize it and explain it. If I can define that, then perhaps I can use it to my advantage. By describing what I don't like about the process of creating mass produced clothing and the industry that has resulted, I can exploit the advantages and create stronger, more original, unique clothing with a clearer sense of form and function.

It's important to me to create clothing that people love. It's important to me to create iconographic pieces that could be considered heirlooms, or walking art pieces, or at least to create clothing that women relish as part of their wardrobe, and not something to simply discard because it's out of fashion.

Are there clothes that transcend fashion? Are there garments that one wears simply because it makes them feel good?    


  1. Laver's law is certainly fascinating and I find myself looking where I might be placed in the chart. Probably anti-fashion would be a useful addition :-) But yes, I do think there are clothes that transcend fashion and that you wear simply because they feel good. I think that is especially true as you get older and are less concerned about the latest disposable look.

  2. Hey Corey, my answer to both your questions is yes.
    Hopfully we've all been lucky enough to find that one thing we love that is always in style, the lucious black leather jacket or perfect white shirt that we can throw on like a second skin without a thought. The feel good ones are personal, being a jeans and tee shirt gal, I'm in heaven to have the pair that is worn in enough but not too much, that just lets me know I'm being me.

    I also love with those items that one art piece ...vest, scarf, brooch. The conversation starter.
    I like these conversations we have here and also the chart! Still right on!

  3. LeAnn, that's the camp I'm in, too! I think I'm staunchly anti-fashion, and I've got a blog post coming up that addresses that...

    Interestingly, I also read that as you get older, you retain the fashion sensibility of the last style you think you looked good in, and begin maintaining those attire choices. So it's not uncommon to see older folks wearing clothing that's a bit out of fashion--it's a natural tendency.

    And we all do it--we don't have to be older! Haha! Isn't there usually some aspect of style from the past that we are fond of that we like to hold on to?

  4. Susan--I have a closet full of clothing that I would wear down to the nub if I could! Haha! Isn't it funny how that happens? I have clothing I repeatedly wear every week because it is so comfortable and I feel so good in it. I've been depressed when I've had to give up a good pair of shoes.

    And I think that's a direction I'm going to explore a bit more--those pieces that are so beautiful and artistic it just makes us feel good to wear them, regardless of their "style" value... Hmmm...


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