People wear clothes in order to protect their bodies from natural conditions. Heat, extreme cold weather, humidity, and strong sunlight, are some of the reasons why people have begun wearing clothes in the first place. But human clothes have over the years evolved into a symbol in itself. Conveying a social message to a variety of decoders, clothes, accessories, and decorations, have become a reliable way to denote social status, occupation, economic situation, ethnicity, marital status, sexual orientation and religious affiliation. Thus, for different people around the globe, clothes have become one of the most crucial parts-if not the only one-of a person appearance.
But, to be able to interpret what one is trying to state with the specific selection of garment or accessories he or she has on, the other party has to be adequately trained to receive and translate the “hidden” messages. This is the reason why stereotypes and characterizations have found a fertile ground to grow, although most are falsely used by those who attempt to translate the message. Focusing on generalities an individual may comprehend only one part of the story the clothes another man or woman wears are conveying. Finding out which is the correct meaning of one’s wardrobe has evolved into a study discipline over the years, helping researchers identify and consciously construct the underlying messages of another culture.
Then again, fashion is one of those industries that is constantly experiencing tremendous changes. Sticking with one type of message and filtering every clothing attempt using such a lucid base is totally wrong. Since the manner and the rate at which fashion changes varies among cultures and historic moments, the modern global citizens have to be able to exercise constant restructuring of their fashion principles and devote the necessary time and effort to translating the clothing patterns of different generations. If for example wearing a suit at work was the only acceptable type of dress-code in Western societies, migration and cultural exchange have introduced different types of acceptable fashion statements in the business environment. The same is applicable to the use of decoration items as symbols. While a wealthy social status may have been expressed via the use of heavy jewelry, today an expensive brand-name can illustrate much more than economic sovereignty. On the other hand, since no law prohibits lower-status people from wearing high-status garments, the displayed message one will receive just from examining the appearance denominator can lead to false conclusions. Thus, contemporary sociologists and anthropologists support that the social effect of clothing is limited to one’s understanding and is subject to prior experiences and intercultural barriers. Careful examination and continuous intercultural exchange can be the only tools one has today in order to increase his or her chances of translating a garment’s or decoration’s message accurately.