How Are Fashion and Appearance Central to the Construction of Social Identities

As individuals, we search for our identities, we try to find our place in society, and we want to make statements about ourselves. As history has evolved, social roles have encountered a transition from a predictable and calm order to a certain tumultuous heterogeneity. Nowadays, our place in society is not necessarily predefined by our place of birth, family and social status. On the contrary, we have to search for it, earn it, and demonstrate it to the world. In other words, we have to construct a social identity- the image we give to the world about our own personality and the way others perceive us.Fashion plays a very important role in this process, for it is a way to express our personality, to state our beliefs, to communicate our likes and dislikes. Fashion is a skilled architect for our bodies, using colors, shapes, and textures to create pieces of clothing, which combined in a particular way produce, at their turn, a graspable, yet unique image of our identity. As Bennett states in Culture and Everyday Life (2005) fashion embodies a range of symbolic values which are collectively understood within and across different social groups. Therefore, by dressing in a certain way and creating a particular appearance for ourselves, we can send out particular messages about our character, education, financial success, interests and intentions, even sexual preferences. After all, in this fast and complicated world we have very few seconds to make an impression, this is why fashion is a key factor which will help us express all of who we are trough our style and choice of clothing. A piece of clothing can make one feel inhibited, or on the contrary, free and daring, nostalgic for the past or a visionary of the future. The right clothes can help us accomplish our goals and better interact with the people surrounding us. I will start with a short historical map out and thus begin with the Medieval times, since it is considered a period marked by darkness, rigid ideology and strict social delimitations.

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