The Dress of Women: A Critical Introduction to the Symbolism and Sociology of Clothing

By Charlotte Perkins Gilman | Go to book overview

Chapter Eleven
Fashion and Psychology

THERE is no least detail of human life which does not bear relation to the whole. There is no act, however trivial, which may not be called [right] or [wrong]—in relation to living.

In order to judge of the lightness and wrongness we must, of course, have some clear idea about living, about the Great Game, and our personal part in it.

When an individual's place and work in life call for some special costume it is easy to see what clothes are [right] and what [wrong.] If in one's business it is necessary to change clothing often, or to change with speed, there is Tightness and wrongness in those processes; but when we consider ordinary women's lives, the standard is not so clear.

What we have here to study is not the ethical quality of this or that costume, or of physical dexterity in donning or doffing it; but the ethics of Fashion, the psychology of Fashion, the relation of this habit of abject submissiveness to all the rest of life.

So unaccustomed are we to thinking about our clothing, to any real reasoning process as to its nature, quality and effect, that it seems absurd to attach a high psychological importance to this general subservience to Fashion.

Let us see:

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