Fashion: Art of Dressing Decent
The subject matter of dressing is no longer the aboriginal utility of covering or suitability to climate but the present day aberrant and abhorrent misuse of the clothing material. The pressure is stronger to deny the reality of decency in dressing and to disregard all rules of modesty in the face of today’s individualistic and relativistic societal leanings.
Today’s dressing facilitates a mental rape by your opposite sex, a sympathetic ridicule of your private parts, and leaves you in a state of sensual distress.
Their lies in each of us a canon of conscience, a kernel of common sense, and at least a residue of sincerity. It is to these I must appeal if the endangered practice of decent dressing must be preserved. For we all must rally unto reason to rediscover the original answers to these pertinent questions: Why do we dress and how do we dress? Can dressing be proper or improper? Who decides whether dressing is good or bad? Why should I dress indecently? How can I dress decently?
We will find our answers as we probe the meaning, the manner, the matter, and the motive of dressing.
(Let us begin our quest by knowing first the meaning of dressing.)
I. THE MEANING OF DRESSING
A. Dressing means To Cover the body from naked exposure.
B. Dressing means To Care for the body from nature’s elements.
(If dressing is this simple, how did we come by all the styles and types of clothing today? The answer is there are several things that influence how you dress or the manner of your dressing).
II. THE MANNER OF DRESSING
A. Is Informed by Culture
- Popular Culture – Values, Tradition, Norms, e.g. gender-specific dressing, defined parts to be clothed.
- Particular Culture – Profession, Occasion, Prescription, e.g. uniforms, dinner wears.
B. Is Informed by Couture
- Individual Taste – Variety, shape, desire.
- Innovations in Time – Vogue, style, designer.
(But if our common burden about dressing is in the bane of indecent dressing and the ban on decent dressing, then we must search beyond the manner into the matter of dressing.)
III. THE MATTER OF DRESSING
A. The Normative – This centres on the ideals such as:
- Psychosomatic Priority of Dressing – This concerns our Physical Vulnerability without clothing and the Psychological Inadequacy of nakedness.
- Socio-Cultural Perspectives of Dressing – This deals with Customs (dressing according to gender, status), and Conventions (dressing by vocation, occasion).
- Ethico-Religious Prescriptions for Dressing – This consists of
a. Moral Considerations (sensitivity to short skirts, sleeveless wears, dresses highlighting curves, nipples, and cleavages, etc.), and
b. Metaphysical Connotations (Some believe angels may be offended if women don’t cover their head during worship, some religious rites too are dress-specific).
- Egotistical Presumptions on Dressing – This involves
a. Individualism (Dressing is personal, yes! the extreme is “if you have it flaunt it”).
b. Relativism (Decency is relative, yes! But what about exposing my bum now?).
B. The Neutral – When the interest is in:
- Function – Cover, Care, Comfort.
- Fashion – Vogue, Variety.
- Feature – of Area, of Era.
C. The Negative – When the concern is with the:
- Trivia between decent dress and dress sense.
- Threat of provocative wares and transvestite designs.
- Trend of nudism and indecent exposure.
- Truth of sensual depravity and sexual vulnerability.
(Now that we understand the normative, the neutral and the negative concerns of dressing, it is time for us to make a choice. But if you must make a change you have to check your motives for dressing.)
IV. MOTIVE OF DRESSING
- of Decency and Welfare
- of Deficiency in Welfare
- of Defiance to Culture
- of Deference to Culture
- of Distinctiveness within Culture
- of Subculture – hip-hop, gay, cult symbol.
- of Sexuality – navel, laps, cleavage, curves.
- of Superiority – class, collection, cost.
We have seen how the meaning of dressing points to its essence and how our manner of dressing pictures our experience. We can see too that while the subject matter of dressing borders on the epistemic, the motive of dressing prioritises the ethic. These four dimensions enable our better understanding of dressing and decency and posit us to take personal and rational choices towards decent dressing.
A dress is not just a piece of clothing, it is a picture of culture. It reflects the mores of consensus through one’s mirror of conscience. Decent dressing is then a mix of self-comfort, a sense of community and the right motives. Your next decent dressing would be formed from the matrix of these self-discovery questions: How do I want it? How do they feel? What do I want?
me I dress to make sense, not to make a scene. How do you want it?