Fashion is the prevailing style or manner of dress, etiquette, socializing, and other behaviors. It is typically influenced by societal changes and often involves an element of novelty. It can also have a cyclical nature, with styles going “into fashion” and then returning to popularity at a later time. Fashions may differ significantly within a culture, reflecting varying attitudes towards the body and the status of clothing. Fashions can also be used to identify members of a group or subculture, with particular styles of clothing serving as signals for social class, generation, or occupation.
Although it is commonly assumed that fashion is dictated by societal change and the financial interests of manufacturers and retailers, recent research indicates that internal taste mechanisms are also at play. In addition, fashions can be influenced by the discovery of new countries and their goods, as when Europeans first began to adopt Chinese and Japanese designs in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Fashion can be used to symbolise mood and emotion, as well as signify membership in a group or subculture. For example, a wedding dress may be worn to symbolise a new beginning, while ripped jeans may be used to convey a sense of casualness and youth. Clothes can also be used to mark significant life events, such as a graduation ceremony or a job interview. Fashion is also used to communicate a person’s status in society, with more formal attire being worn for important occasions and less formal clothing being worn for informal ones.