What the "dress code" shares
Cultural History Deciphered from Clothing
Dress codes” are everywhere, from suits and dresses at weddings and funerals to workplace uniforms and school uniforms. According to the Japan Formal Association, a dress code is defined as “an outfit worn on formal occasions as an expression of respect and consideration for others.
As far back as the 7th to 9th centuries, European royalty and nobility are said to have established dress codes to “differentiate classes. One example is Louis XIV’s 17th century ban on the wearing of red-soled shoes except for himself and his courtiers.
In the past, dress codes also functioned as an expression of “gender, wealth, and poverty,” as women’s pants were considered out of place, and accessories were restricted according to race. The topic of fashion can be the shortest route to cultural understanding,” says Richard Thompson Ford, a professor and cultural critic at Stanford University.
We have examined gender and inequality issues in multiple previous SCANNINGs. As people’s values and social trends change, the following opinion pieces will examine the current state of dress codes.
What the dress tells
The other day, I attended a party to which I was invited. The dress code was not specified at all, so I went in plain clothes, but many people were dressed up, and I couldn’t deny that I felt out of place. It is tiring to constantly be staring at one’s own closet while trying to figure out what is implicit in it.
The recent passing of Queen Elizabeth, whose memory is still fresh, saw the establishment of a strict dress code for her funeral. Royal members holding military titles were required to wear ceremonial uniforms, while female members of the royal family were expected to don black mourning attire along with black hats, veils, and pearls. Each of these dress codes has been passed down through a long history and holds deep significance.
The veil, a tradition in the British Royal Family for nearly a century, has transcended time to become a symbol of British royal funerals. Pearls, on the other hand, symbolize sorrow and tears, with their understated luster conveying respect. While these protocols were widely followed at Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, glimpses of evolving dress codes were also observed. Veils that were once long and opaque have given way to shorter, more open-meshed veils in modern times. Furthermore, the long-standing prohibition of women wearing pantsuits has also been lifted.
As new perspectives emerge with changing trends and eras, even the traditions that have been passed down for generations slowly evolve with the times. In today’s world where individuality flourishes, dress codes might occasionally feel restrictive. Yet, it remains a fact that dress codes have played a role in conveying blessings, respect, and reverence on special occasions, as well as upholding traditions. Dress codes are a form of expression that we’ve inherited, and they need not confine us. Even I might have once forgotten the essence while being confined by the discomfort.
Do uniforms provide "equality"?
When I was job hunting, I was always bothered by “dress code” events. Should I wear a suit after all, or can I dress really rough… If there was a clear dress code, I wouldn’t have to worry about choosing what to wear.
Dress codes have the power to make people’s fashion follow a specific TPO or purpose. For example, school uniforms, which became popular in the 19th century along with compulsory education, were a dress code to eliminate class differences in the way people dressed and to achieve at least “equality” in appearance.
In recent years, however, some have pointed out that this dress code has created “inequality. For example, uniforms are likely limiting the activities of female students. Recent studies have shown that female students are more active when wearing sports uniforms and are more likely to choose active modes of transportation, such as bicycling. However, in many cases, there are not many comfortable and less revealing alternatives to skirts being presented.
In addition, uniform uniforms fail to scoop up the needs of gender minorities, religious minorities, and low-income families for whom the initial investment in uniforms is a burden. In a time when equality has brought a perspective on how to be inclusive of diversity, a dress code that requires everyone to wear the same uniform will not achieve the goal of “equality.
Even if the goal of “equality” itself remains the same, as times change, so do the approaches required. It will be necessary to update the dress code to match the times.
Local Culture and Dress Codes
While the World Cup is in full swing, controversy is brewing in the local Qatar over a “dress code” that is rooted in the local culture. A model soccer fan who was cheering locally was wearing a very low neckline in Qatar, a Muslim country. A recent British travel advisory also warned that if you are not careful what you wear in Qatar, you could be in trouble. Manners that understand and respect the local culture that the locals hold dear are required.
The Future of Gender Fluid Fashion
Gender fluid fashion was a recurring theme at major fashion weeks in 2021. With the rise of non-binary designer Harris Reed, who became very popular for dressing Harry Styles in romantic looks and ball gowns for the cover of Vogue, gender-neutral fashion has become an imminent concept. Traditional dress codes will also be updated to make the experience comfortable for everyone.
The End of the Suit
Since its inception in 1806, demand for men’s suits and uniforms did not cease until March 2020, when the new coronavirus raged. With the pandemic, spending on men’s suits collapsed from £460 million in 2017 to £157 million in 2020, recovering slightly to £279 million last year. The suit industry is switching its focus to “separates,” or suit trousers and jackets sold separately, so that they can be mix-and-matched with less formal clothes. The significance of formal attire is being reexamined in the face of increasing casualization.