Fashion is as old as mankind. Women have always used one thing or the other to adorn themselves. Fashion is described as the styles of cutting garments worn by most people of a particular race or country. It also depicts the way people live.
Fashion, as it relates to clothing, is what is in style at a particular time. The concept of fashion highlights the process of style change over time. For instance, a style of clothing may be introduced as fashion, but its use over time becomes a custom, handed down from one generation to another. For example, it is easy to identify Yoruba women with the clothes they wear, which is Buba and wrapper (Iro) with head gear (gele). Hausa women will tie one wrapper and a blouse and one wrapper to cover their body with a piece of the wrapper to the head. The Igbo women will tie two long wrappers at the same time with a lace blouse and a headgear. All these have been termed fashion. The following factors shape or influence fashion that prevails in a particular area. They are: weather, occasion, and fabrics.
A. Weather – This plays a great role in determining the clothes we wear. Thus, in cold weather, darker and heavyweight clothing materials and longer clothes are worn to keep the body warm.
B. Occasion – The occasion a person attends largely determines the clothes to be worn. For example, dressing for a wedding will be different from a school uniform, office or market.
C. Fabrics – Fabrics also play an important role in fashion. Fabrics for children are quite different from those of the adults.
Causes of fashion trends
Fashion reflects the society of which it is a part. It has been influenced by wars, conquests, laws, religion, and the arts. Individuals and their personalities have also had an impact on fashion trends.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, notably, fashions have changed rapidly. We would look stupid or strange indeed if we wear the styles our great grandparents wore. Styles of clothing have changed as a result of contact with other societies and competition for status within a society. Generations influence fashion. By the 18th century, European women’s dresses had tight bodies with a stiff panel, called stomacher, that extended over the chest and abdomen. Sleeves and skirts were fully-made with ample fabric, so much so that they puffed out. Both men and women wore white, stiff and pleated collars.
Social life can also influence fashion trends. When women began to enter into sports and business in the late 1800s, few adjustments were made in their dresses. They went to the office wearing tailored suits over corsets. They played tennis in ankle-length skirts. These days women playing tennis wear T-shirts and very short skirts. Fashion designers also contribute to fashion trends to be in business. They design new styles to replace former ones; for example, during the 19th century in Europe, a knee-length jacket called a frock coat gradually replaced the short jacket with tails at the back (a tailcoat).