Fashion is a prevailing style of dress and behavior. It is often seen as a form of social commentary and expression. It is also associated with beauty, style and glamour. Depending on the context, the word fashion may be used to describe anything from the latest style of shoes to the way a person wears their hair.
Fashions vary from place to place and over time, with different cultures having their own traditional styles that are influenced by regional culture, the dominant political climate, the economy, etc. The changes in a particular type of clothing style can also be triggered by new discoveries, as was the case with the introduction of silk from China or the shift from natural to synthetic fibres in the textile industry.
Although it varies between cultures, the modern concept of fashion was probably first established in Western Europe during the late medieval period, with the nobility beginning to copy lower class styles, known as the “trickle down theory.” In the 19th century, changes in men’s clothes were often galvanized by military models, with the length of a gentleman’s coat for example changing from calf-length to barely covering the buttocks, and then back again, as the military influence faded.
Today, fashions are created and spread through fashion magazines, newspapers, television shows and websites. Fashion designers and their clients, such as celebrities, are also influential in determining how quickly and dramatically clothing fashions change, and what is considered in or out of fashion.