Fashion is a popular term that refers to a particular style of clothing or accessories. It may also be used to describe what society as a whole considers to be acceptable dress, manners, or etiquette.
Using fashion as a social tool can have many effects, from creating stereotypes to separating groups of people by their clothing. For example, in high school, groups have names: “goths,” “skaters,” and “preps.” One group might call someone with green hair and multiple piercings a freak or outsider. Another might see him as a strict conformist and look down on him.
In contrast, fashion can be a powerful tool in promoting social change. For instance, in nineteenth century England, laws banned people from wearing clothes produced in France. In the twentieth century, clothing became a tool in communist revolutions to abolish class and race distinctions.
It is difficult to trace fashions and their origins, but a lot of evidence indicates that fashions travel through different geographic regions and societies. Some experts argue that fashions are a reflection of society, as they are influenced by cultural trends in music and art. These trends often start with people in higher socioeconomic statuses, and then trickle down to those of lower socioeconomic statuses (Simmel, 1904).