The Great Renunciation Essay.
The Great Renunciation
We have to discuss the above statement with reference to individual examples and my topic of the essay would be ‘The Great Masculine Renunciation?’ (did men renounce fashion in the 19th century? if so,why? )
We have to explain that statement given above by the great masculine renunciation topic example.
Also our essay should be concentrated on this aspect-
1.Religion,community race and nationality (western gaze, globalisation , cultural appropriation , stereotypes. e.g.- hijab:the veil, turban)
The Great Renunciation Essay.
The Great Renunciation
Thesis Statement: Fashion is a resource key through which individuals construct their identities and position themselves in relation to others.
Identity and fashion are to some extent interdependent, and Andy Bennet states that Fashion is a vital avenue resource through which people showcase their characters and position and or relate themselves to the people who they admire. Clothing which is a form of fashion display and shape one’s identity (Bennet, 2005).
Jones states that fashion trend is associated with a culture or art, that is commonly used and or applied; this includes things like fashion trends and style of dressing. Fashion exists in our day to day life and or activity including what is happening around us.it does not exist in dresses only, fashion has to do with what is going on both within and around us, our religion, cultural background, and modernity (Jones, p.122,2014)
Further, Jones adds that People use fashion to express what is happening around them and also to show or make other people understand their personality or what they are going through or even pass a particular message. Fashion provides individuals with an avenue through which they can make powerful personal statements about their identities. Furthermore, people use fashion to express their religious background, the community they come from and or race that they come from and their nationality (Jones, p.130, 2014)
In today’s society, a person tends to be judged by what they are putting on or rather wearing. This judgmental tendency mostly happens in the third world countries and the countries that are Muslim or Christian oriented. For instance, in a country like the United States of America, a person is not judged by what they are wearing because to them any form of fashion is acceptable, regardless of where it is descent in the eyes of the society or not (Craik, 1994)
Furthermore, people living in countries like Somalia or Saudi Arabia are required to put on hijabs and also cover their faces as a sign of being modest, presentable, holy and smart. To them, people who wear short and skimpy dresses are commonly considered to be careless and not satisfactory in the eyes of the society.
Moreover, some religion requires their members to use head skiffs and turbans at all times to show their commitment to the religion and also as a sign of being holy. On the other hand, today’s society perceives people who wear dark colored clothes to be introverted and those who wear bright colored clothes to be vivacious and free.
Furthermore, fashion is also associated with the age group of people. One fashion trend may not be acceptable in another age group. For instance, in the ancient western world and also during the Roman times, teenagers wore peculiar kind of dresses with a particular style, and this reflected whether they belong to a wealthy class, middle class or the lower class kind of people. This scenario is also seen in today’s life whereby children or teenagers who belong to a particular class, mostly the high class, tend to where very plain and overpriced dresses as compared to others (Bennet, 2005).
The above scenario is also depicted in the adult fashion industry whereby the wealthy tend to put on designer clothing that is very expensive and distinct from other people in the society. When it comes to age, there is a particular kind of fashion that is mostly associated with the each age group. Like there is a fashion trend for children, teenagers as well as the adult. Obviously. The one age group cannot wear something that belongs to another age group because it would look absurd and not so very age appropriate, not classy and elegant as the society would depict (Bennet, 2005).
In the 19th century, the long robes, caps and very lacey kind of dresses were mostly associated with the old and rich men in the society. During that time such kind of clothing was considered modest and classy (Breward, 2016). Some of these traditions and or perceptions still exists in today society, people still embrace the long dresses, with clothing that cover their arms and also dark colored clothing mostly for formal occasions. Very sexy kind of dressing is not considered classy, and the society depicts people who wear such to be very careless and irresponsible in nature. Most of the people back then would associate themselves with dark colored clothes, and very often the designers would select clothing that is very dark colored to be appropriate for the people belonging to the older age group or the influential people like the politicians because they also associated the dark colors with elegance and fashion trend.(Breward, 2016).
Fashion and the fashion trends contribute majorly to people’s social life, and people often use this avenue to depict their identities (Hollander, 1994). Hollander further adds that because people use fashion to draw their personalities to the society, they tend to relate themselves with other individuals who use the same kind of fashion. This is very common in the modern society where many people whereby many people always want to dress like the people that they admire or look up to. Bennett further adds because of fashion; many people end up gathering in public or private places with total strangers just because they tend to relate to the fashion trend that is worn to the occasion, irrespective of whether it is age appropriate or not. (Bennet, 2005).
Fashion enables an individual to be a powerful and influential resource in the society. The statement that fashion is an essential tool under which people in the 19th century up to the 21st-century use to show their identities or pass a particular message. This is mostly common in the modern society whereby certain stereotypes tend to relate to certain dressing for them to be considered powerful and very influential (Sturken and Kartwright, 2001). For instance, for an extended period, Hilary Clinton and Mitchell Obama have been able to affect not only the American population but also people from other walks of life with their fashion trend. Hillary Clinton has always maintained her elegant and sophisticated official suits and other the other hand, Mitchel Obama has also done the same with her descent and classy dresses.
Over time, people have used garments of clothing and accessories to display their individual and collective affiliations such as their political views, nationality, and social status, cultural background, and religion (Entwistle, 2015). Therefore fashion is given a significant meaning within the context of society. Just like fashion, clothing orientates our position with regards to gender and sexuality. No country has made proper use of personal style for assimilation more evident and complicated than in post-modern Japan. A sense of community is achieved in subcultures by the performance of being seen in certain styles of clothing that become a ‘visual shortcut’ connecting people who wish to lead similar lifestyles and have a shared aesthetic (Entwistle,2015).
Furthermore, some Japanese subcultures seem to have resisted the Great Masculine Renunciation to date. Meaning that bodily adornment is used equally by both sexes. Japanese street style is commonly thought to have blossomed from the Japanese cultural forms of Manga, Anime and video games that enjoy enduring popularity worldwide. Some theories state that although there is no particular social purpose to Japanese street style the mere ‘visual overload’ of postmodern consumerist culture with its advertising and pictorial media pushes youngsters to explore ever-more extreme representations of identity upon the canvas of themselves (Entwistle,2015).
The great masculinity renunciation and fashion
The great masculine renunciation is a historical phenomenon which took place in the late 18th century whereby the men clothing which was using brilliant forms and bright colors was left for women to use (Parkins, 2013). The images below shows a transition of the men clothing from bright colored to dark colored. Jewelry and colorful fabrics were considered a sign of wealth and societal prominence. Men who had colorful attire were deemed as successful and commanded the respect they needed in the society.
The above image depicts a three piece suit which came into existence after the traditional bright colored suits in the 18th century.
This Image is showcasing men’s dark look from the traditional, old fashioned and outdated three piece suit. It was considered a major turning point for the male fashion in that they left the use of adornment and beauty for women. With the renunciation, the men intended to draw gender lines and identify themselves as masculine beings who were very different from the females who were considered fragile (Parkins, 2013).
The aspect of aesthetic was deemed to be irrelevant to the male gender in the 19th century because it had no place in the social class of gentlemen who preferred to look respectable in suits. Occasionally, men would put on black or gray hats that were seen as the greatest attempt a person could make when it comes to complementing their look (Parkins, 2013).
The stores had everything the population needed at affordable rates. They opened the minds of men in the society who begun to define their fashion sense according to the image they wanted to project in the community (Breward, 2016). Advertising also promoted the dark look like the one to be associated with success and being gentlemen. The departmental stores advertised and marketed the suits they had the best look for the smart businessman. At the time, they were just merely selling their clothes and were not aware that the same would initiate a fashion statement (Breward, 2016)
Most importantly, fashion was used as a form of cultural and national identity and helped to establish a sense of pride among those who chose to address in a conventional manner at the time (Parkins, 2013). Male masculinity was defined for the better, where it encompassed attributes that related to being gentlemen, good grooming and being respectable. Such aspects defined the new masculinity that was facilitated by a different sense of fashion that in spite of its contracts, was quite good (Parkins, 2013).
They viewed elaborate dressing as something that was too feminine in nature and instead embraced more practical attired such as suits. They spoke of their authority and were in synch with the social and political climate at the time that demanded some form of seriousness from the male gender (Parkins, 2013). For instance, black became a core color in male clothes and was associated with a class in the society. Other colors were left to women who were seen as having the need to dress more elaborately and assert their physical attractiveness.
The above image shows the kind of darks colored suits preferred by modern men after renunciation of the bright colored suits (Parkins, 2013). That sort of suit is associated which the classy and prominent people in the society mostly those in the political field. For example, three-piece suits and impeccable cleanliness were qualities that were expected from individuals who belonged to a more superior race in the society, something that created a racial identity about the same (Kutcha,1994).
It is not possible to discuss matters of identity without bringing up the issue of fashion, make-up, grooming habits and clothing because fashion is at the very core of the culture and identity of people, and it helps to propel a particular image as well as creating awareness about and individual’s beliefs and practices (Entwistle,2015).
Many scholars have argued that in as much as fashion is an essential resource to construct an individual’s identity, fashion cannot be a critical resource to create one’s identity because, in today’s fashion industry, people tend to wear what is currently trending without necessarily wearing what best identifies them or their characters. Most teenagers wear what they see trending in the mass media (Entwistle, 2015).
Most men have also disregarded the great masculinity renunciation, and they have gone back to wearing the bright colored suits as casual wear and other people even using them as formal wear. The female and male fashion is more or less similar with little distinguishing factors. Female are also trying to make dark three-piece suits that resemble those of the masculine gender.
Fashion trends have made it that every time we get dressed, we tend to convey a particular kind of message whether consciously or unconsciously. People in the 21st century have also started to embrace fashion trends that were used in the old 18th and 19th century as part of being stylish. So at the end of the day, in as much as the eyes of the society may think otherwise about an individual’s sense of style or fashion, what matters is how comfortable a person feels in what he or she is putting on.
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Breward,C. (2016). The Suit: Form, Function, and Style. Reaktion Books.
Craik, J. (2003). Fashion Masculinity. In J. Craik, The Face of Fashion: Cultural Studies in Fashion (pp. 172-285). Routledge.
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