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What Your Clothes Say About You
People wear clothes to protect their bodies from the cold or the burning sun, from insect bites and injuries, and from the unwelcome eyes of strangers. However, what people wear can also convey a message about who they are and their role in society.
For example, visit nearly any country in the world and you will notice that young people everywhere are wearing fashionable blue jeans, not for work, but for social occasions such as parties and concerts. The jeans are somewhat of an index of how these young people view themselves: I'm modern and stylish. l'm relaxed and confident. I'm different from the traditional older generation. I'm sexy. Jeans make such an important statement that, in some groups, a person might be judged by the brand of jeans he or she is wearing. As a result, some young people feel pressured into spending hundreds of dollars to acquire a single pair of designer jeans just to be in fashion.
An even more direct means whereby people make statements about themselves is via messages printed on T-shirts. One says Oxford
University. Another reads Italy 2006 World Cup. There are many kinds of T-shirt messages. They can convey allegiance to schools and sports teams, advertise places or products, make political statements, serve as wearable travel souvenirs, and commemorate important occasions. These wearable messages are seldom ambiguous.They clearly tell others, This is what I want you to know about me. Just as blue jeans and T-shirts say a great deal about the people who are wearing them. So does the Western business suit. It says that the person wants to impress others with his or her professional status. A fitted jacket and matching trousers constitute a man's suit, while a fitted jacket and matching skirt constitute a woman's suit. A collared shirt and a necktie are integral parts of the man's outfit, while stockings and high-heeled shoes complete the woman's. Often this attire is not what the person chooses to wear, but it is what a company requires its top- level employees to wear. The business suit is so conventional that it is analogous to a uniform in other occupations.
A uniform identifies the occupation of many people. Military personnel are easy to identify by their uniforms. The same is true for civil emergency personnel like police officers and fire fighters. Medical workers, airline pilots, and members of religious orders are other examples of people whose work can be identified by their clothing. In certain contexts, special clothing is worn to differentiate not only the occupation of people, but also their authority For example, when a court of law convenes, the judge's robe is a clear indicator of her role and authority, Similarly the chef's tall white hat indicates his job and that he's in charge in the restaurant's kitchen.
Clothing might also show which group a person belongs to. For example, Scotsmen wear distinctive tartans to show their clan affiliation,just as city street gangs wear colored headscarves to show their gang membership Similarly; school uniforms identify children as students at to a certain school.
Societies choose different ways to show marital status. In Western societies, women— and often men—wear wedding rings on their left hands. Other cultures use different symbols.
Hindu women, for example, wear a red powder in their hair after they marry. Unmarried Amish women wear black bonnets on their heads, while married women wear white ones.
Clothing serves many functions beyond just protecting our bodies. Clothing can tell a lot about the people who wear it.