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What is the purpose of dress?

The most apparent purpose of dress is catering for protection and warmth. It was thought, however, that the first crude clothes worn by humans were for religious or ritual purposes only. Furthermore other fundamental dress functions are to identify the wearer with information on gender, age, occupation or other characteristics. It may, moreover, offer the wearer a more desirable look. Even if it is clear that such dress applications have improved and remain earthshaking, deciding how they are accomplished can also be unenviable.

Some clothes thought to be beautiful offer no protection whatsoever and may actually even hurt the wearer. Dresses that certainly mark one wearer will lose their meaning in another time and place. Clothes that are considered elegant are declared downright hideous in the next century, and even uniforms are subject to change, the easiest and most easily recognized costume. What are the reasons for modifications like that? Why is it that clothes are replaced by people until they are worn out? In short, as opposed to mere clothing, why does fashion exist?

There are of course, no simple answers to such questions, and one reason is influenced by a multitude of others but certainly one of the most common theories is that in conjunction with capitalism and the development of modern socioeconomic classes, fashion evolved. Thus, styles did not undergo a pattern of change in relatively static societies with limited movement between classes, as in many parts of Asia until modern times or in Europe prior to the Middle Ages.

On the other hand, when lower classes have the ability to copy upper classes, the upper classes quickly initiate changes in fashion that show their authority and high position. For instance, improved communication and manufacturing technology during the 20th century enabled new styles to trickle down at ever faster speeds from the elite to the masses, resulting in accelerated fashion change.