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Fashion and individual identity Research Paper

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Updated: Nov 21st, 2019


Fashion came about due to the desire by some people to be unique. In their quest to be unique, they wore clothes and used things that appealed other people, who then went ahead to get their own. However, fashion grew to become a frivolously motivated and constantly changing trend.

Contemporary fashion has dealt with much of the frivolousness, and it is thus taken as a reflection of one’s self-image (McDaniel, 2009). An archaic frivolous attitude towards fashion, which is unfortunately embraced by many, will therefore have adverse effects on the individual identity of the person. This paper explores the extent to which the fashion industry has dented individual identity.

Symbolism of clothing

Clothes normally have a variety of symbolic meanings. This is part of what the fashion industry uses to attract people to their designs. The symbolism is normally meant to make the clothes communicate to other people about the person wearing the cloth (Langman, 2002). This kind of symbolism has been an undeniable catalyst of the ever-rising negative effects of fashion on the identity of people.

The aforementioned symbolism may touch a myriad of spheres in life. For instance, the clothes may be meant to say something about the sexual orientation of the person wearing them. Other things clothes may symbolize include music, age etcetera (Duran, 2008).

This has made people who want to sport a given image try different fashions, which could lead to an identity crisis if the desired image is not part of the persons character. For instance, due to the quest to have a sexy appeal, a person may wear clothes that are too revealing for their character. This could lead to an identity crisis in cases where the person gets to like the nature of such clothes.

The connection between fashion and personal identity

The choice of the kind of clothes to wear is normally dictated by the personality of the individual. This fact makes the clothes a reflection of the person, which is why the choice of fashion is taken to represent personal identity. Accessories that normally accompany clothing may equally reflect a person’s identity.

Since clothes tell so much about the people who wear them, the owner of the clothes also values them in a specific way depending on his personality. It is this kind of relationship between clothing and personality that makes fashion a critical media of information (Rasband, 2006).

The discussed connection between fashion and personal identity is the main reason why a myriad of people who embrace fashion are in an identity crisis. The description of contemporary fashion states clearly that it is characterized by trends.

It thus follows that people who are fond of following fashion trends will be caught in an identity crisis since they would want to try a variety of attires and accessories that portray different identities (Beaudry, 2010).

An affluent young person may buy different fashion designs to appear fashionable just because he/she has the money. This could have an adverse effect in his/her personal identity. For instance, it is common to see hip-hop artists wear hip-hop attire, and then switch to wearing suits.

Even though the suit-wearing may be meant for specific functions, the way other people view the artist may change. The artist identity may also be intrinsically affected, especially if he/she considers the new attire to be more appealing than the usual attire. Other people’s identities are equally jeopardized upon embracing the dynamic fashion trends in the contemporary society.

Gender imbalance

Men and women equally use clothing as part of their personal image. However, fashion has, since time immemorial, been oriented towards women. Thus women are always experimenting with different fashions to get their desired look and results. This has led to a boom in the fashion for women, which has translated into more identity issues among women (Malcolm, 2008).

For instance, the culture-reflecting attire that used to be worn by women in the past has been replaced by more fashionable clothes. Ancient attire that emphasized femininity has also been replaced by attire that makes women less lady-like. This makes them cope with the dynamism of social life.

Thus women are now able to assume masculine responsibilities and positions. For instance, in the contemporary society, it is not unusual to find female CEOs, managers and engineers. It can thus be argued that, although the fashion industry has adversely affected the identity of people, some of the effects are positive while others are negative.


As evidenced in the discussion above, individual identity and fashion are, more or less, inseparable. Fashion has a myriad of attributes and innumerable symbolic features that make a convenient tool for individual as well as cultural identification. Since identity is all about self-realization, fashion serves to harmonize a person’s inner feelings, and also reveal his/her uniqueness.

It is also notable that fashion is normally acceptable in the society as long as its effects do not hurt people. This acceptability is the reason why fashion has led many to have identity crises, and embrace a fashion addiction that only serves to retard their social and personal growth.

Reference List

Beaudry, M. (2010). . Web.

Duran, I. (2008). Marketing to Personal Identity. Web.

Langman, L. (2002). . Web.

Malcolm, B. (2008). Fashion and identity. Web.

McDaniel, E. (2009). Communication Between Cultures. London. McMillan Publishers.

Rasband, J. (2006). Image advantage. Web.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Fashion and individual identity'. 21 November.

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