Are women fashion conscious due to societal expectations or personal interest?
Joanna (Societal Expectations)
It wasn't that long ago that Pew Research revealed society values women's physical attractiveness the most. Due to such high expectations, women may turn to fashion, following current and forward trends, to look their best and impress. Societal expectations of women originate at a very young age. In addition to dolls that promote dressing up and being fashionable, media directed at them emphasizes physical appearance. For instance, Disney princesses like Cinderella and Elsa promote the concepts of feminine beauty and desirability.
The pressure doesn't grow less with age. For instance, women are expected to carry themselves differently from men at the workplace. A study found a correlation between them dressing well and higher pay.
While higher-paying workplaces may require a skirt or pantsuit, this pay difference may influence the notion that a better appearance ensures promotion. This is perhaps why women are more prone to uttering apologies for not looking their usual made-up selves during pandemic-era Zoom meetings.
Like girls, women are targeted by popular culture to ensure they look their best. While men can wear the same ensemble, even strong female protagonists in shows such as Sex and The City need to wear different clothing or else be deemed 'unfashionable or out of touch.'
Society members, not just societal expectations in general, also influence women's need to be fashion conscious. Women tend to choose articles of clothing based on the people with whom they interact daily. For instance, they may choose style over comfort when meeting potential or existing partners. Meanwhile, they feel the need to out dress other women because of a subtle competition between them. So before judging them for their style choices, remember the many factors that surround her making such choices.
Maha (Personal Interest)
If there's anyone or anything influencing women to keep a watch on fashion trends, it's themselves. And there's ample evidence to support this. Despite strict lockdowns during the early days of the pandemic, women made up 68% of online fashion shoppers. However, they shifted to athleisure as it satisfies their love for fashion while delivering comfort during their stay indoors, despite society not thinking too highly of such clothing.
But women's relationship with fashion is far from new. They've always had a strong, personal connection with it for several reasons. Women are more expressive than men. Therefore, they are more open to expressing their personal identities and how they wish to be perceived. Fashion helps them achieve this by offering a range of styles that can become visual representations of their identity and personal creative expression.
In addition to their identity, fashion allows women to communicate their social liveliness. Staying up to date with fashion trends gives women the confidence they need while out. A certain style can add to their happiness, convey their stand, and capture attention.
Fashion further helps women stand up for their beliefs. For instance, their heightened sense of social responsibility makes them advocate and purchase sustainable fashion. While this is still a new concept in the American fashion industry, many women are already familiar with it precisely because they choose to track fashion trends.
Therefore, women's personal interest deserves the credit here. Likewise, the fact that prominent female fashion designers have driven the industry for decades further accentuating the inarguable beauty of femaleness and deserve mention as well. Had women's fashion choices been influenced by society, now-common trends such as wearing pants would have been buried in history's pages.
- A 2018 AARP survey of women aged 21-72 on beauty, age, and the media, 72% of “boomer women” said “they feel free to dress however they want,” whereas 61% of Gen Xers and millennials did not.
- Zippia reports that over 4,000 fashion designers are employed in the US, with 73% being female and 19.5% being male, and the average annual salary being $52,210.
- When it comes to apparel, women outspent men in 2020 by over $1000, spending a yearly average of nearly $2,000 on clothes, whereas men didn’t break $900.
- In 2015, Harper's Bazaar listed prominent female fashion designers who changed the industry forever, including Jeanne Lanvin, Madeleine Vionnet, Coco Chanel, Claire McCardell, Elsa Schiaparelli, Mary Quant, Vivienne Westwood, Miuccia Prada, Carolina Herrera, Diane Von Furstenberg, Betsey Johnson, Donna Karan, Stella McCartney, Vera Wang, and many more!