Clothes are things we wear for different purposes. Some people see clothes as a way of staying covered, others look further and say it reflects who we are and at times we are identified with what we wear. Clothes came into existence as a result of the necessity for man to keep warm and covered for protection. With time and different cultures playing a significant role, it has resulted in different fashions and trends coming into existence. But at the end of all this, we are identified with what we wear. For example, students, administrators, teachers, custodians, and coworkers all dress differently. Students can wear uniforms to be taken seriously. However, when they are not in school they wear something more comfortable to suit their taste.
However, administrators have to wear suits because they are expected to dress that way and to get people’s respect for them. Teachers are different because some teachers want respect hence will wear them officially, while others want to be friends with the students hence dress the new age trend which is appealing to the young generation. People wear clothes depending on their profession. Students are identified as students because they wear uniforms, so are nurses as well as casual workers at a factory wearing overalls to work (Garber p. 20).
If we allow ourselves to become obsessive in the way we dress, we will be worth the value of the clothes. This is very true in our society. The rich and popular worry about their clothes and spend hundreds of dollars on one outfit because they have to maintain their identity as this is how they are addressed. In the West African culture, they place so much value on how one wears gold and expensive clothing even though this is to maintain the status quo. Although they get to be addressed as the rich in society, they are seen as materialistic or superficial as the clothes they wear.
When considering what to wear we should put in mind what kind of image you want to portray. If one wants to be considered and taken seriously one should critically take into mind what to wear, like dressing officially in a suite with cool neutral colors like black or grey. Although not all people are smart enough or have enough time to know your personality you will be addressed by the way you are dressed. First impressions do last; they may choose to listen to you or not just based on how you dress. Have you ever wondered why when people go for an interview they spend so much time and a lot of money just to ensure they look decent and marketable? This is because the way you dress is the way you will be addressed and some people do get certain jobs just because of the way they dressed decently despite the fact that they did not meet the qualifications for that particular job. This may seem unfair but to some extent, it reflects on the personality of the person as one put in so much thought on just what to wear hence one is considered to be a keen and efficient person hence the employer considers such a person despite the fact that it might not be the true identity. If we have strong personalities and are confident in ourselves, we need to portray that in our clothing as well. Clothes are significant and we should not hide behind fabric but should portray our true identity to avoid being misjudged.
The Islamic Cultural Mode of Dressing
“A Look behind the Veil” ( Hirschberg, & Hirschberg, 2002, p.191)
What to cover and what to reveal and what to wear is highly culture-sensitive and culturally conditioned. There can be no universal norm in this respect. The mode of dressing that is quite acceptable in the West may be rejected in the East. And what is considered a sexually exciting mode of dressing in one society may not be so in another society. Relating the Islamic women mode of dressing to the write up on “a look behind the Veil” by Stuart Hirschberg, and Terry Hirschberg (2002) in their book Every day, everywhere: global perspectives on popular culture, we will discover that even in Islamic countries, mode of dressing (for women) varies greatly. What is acceptable to Indonesian or Thai Muslims by way of dressing for women may be scandalous for Arabs. Dress and sexual stimulation are certainly culturally conditioned.
The beliefs of theologians have changed over the ages. In the present day, the responsibilities in this respect are very dissimilar and the range of the exclusion can be made much wider, subject to-and that is the intention behind it- restraint of sexual passion and protection of one’s chastity. To avoid illicit sex among Muslim women is the duty of all Islam and not only the women alone, as said by the Qur’an. Also, both Islamic men and women should stay away from putting on dresses that are sexually motivating. They should be dressed in a distinguished dress.
Nevertheless, veiling of the face by Islamic women is not compulsory of the Qur’an in any way. In relation to this, veiling by women was a cultural observance of some post-Islamic extended social groups having a distinctive cultural and economic organization.
Clothing And Sexuality
What you wear determines how you will be addressed can also be considered in the sexual perspective regarding gender. When a woman wears decently as in wearing official dresses they are regarded highly in the society and accorded their respect. With emerging trends where dressing has shifted from for comfort and protection to for pleasure and leisure, we have a certain class of women who dress scantly and provocatively. This can be illustrated in the micro-mini skirts and pants, bare backstops, and tie-backs that leave the majority of their body exposed to the outside rather than covered. Such dressed persons when they step outside into the streets they are addressed as prostitutes or commercial sex workers (Schultz, McCracken, and Lochrie, p 92).
It might not be their personality but since they are dressed that way they are considered to be sending out provocative signals to members of the opposite sex. Accompanied with heavy make-up and intense jewelry along with their walking styles this draws much attention to them wherever they pass. Men tend to turn and give them a look and make funny sounds even when they intend not to do so. Some claim to want their expression and rights to dress as they desire respected in the society, but I wonder what kind of respect that is and some go to the extent of accusing and prosecuting men of sexual advancement and harassment committed against them.
However, such dress codes should not be allowed in certain places like workplaces and institutions of learning to curb down sexual immorality and injustice cases like rape especially on minors. One can dress scantly in the house but in public, if you want to be addressed decently or at least be accorded some respect, one should reconsider. The message one sends out is picked from appearance rather than from one’s personality. This might not be who you are but once in those clothes that is the kind of image that you are sending out will be fast and instantly picked by a member of the opposite sex who will interpret it differently.
This does not apply so much to men, because men have very little to cover with clothing. If a man were to dress scantly there will be very little reaction drawn from ladies as opposed to women dressing in that form. It is just all in the human mentality and behavior meaning that men are more physically oriented; they are attracted to the outside appearance more than to the personality. The issue of personality tends to come in much later long after the physical appearance has been put into consideration, but this remains a subject of contention as long ago before the time our ancestors used to be scantily dressed and sexual injustice was not so much on the increase like in today’s society. The dressing is and will continue to be an important part of our life. As much as the trends and fashions keep on changing, personality and human dignity should be much enhanced and should not on the other side be used to be our undoing.
Dressing and gender have also raised several issues, especially in the religious context. This is in the example where women are told not to wear men’s clothing. The question remains on which are male clothes and on the other hand which is female’s clothes. In many societies, especially the African society the male’s clothes are considered to be trousers while the female clothes are considered to be dresses and skirts. The change in the forms and fashion of dressing was influenced more by many factors rather than gender alone hence the factor of being addressed as a woman just because you have worn a skirt or a dress or being addressed as a man because you have worn a trouser does not hold water. This is in some societies is so intense that if you were a female preacher and you wore a trouser suit on Sunday you may be left with no congregation to preach to just because they consider the trousers especially the tight one to expose the feminine feature more than the dresses.
The idea is opposed because the African woman tends to be more curvy and shapely. This might be viewed as undermining and looking down on the female figure rather than consideration of gender type… Although modernization and shift in culture as a result of globalization and different cultural interaction are fast eroding the thought it might take a long time to fully achieve this. This has resulted in some fashion designers coming up with trouser designs just tailor-made for females different from male’s design. This is advantageous to them because it capitalizes on a certain market niche which is to their advantage rather than solving the bases. This view should not be supported as it looks down on the women and tends to give the male an upper hand over the female. Because of this certain organizations do not consider females for such positions which is not fair especially if it is what one has studied and is the area of specialization as one will be rendered redundant hence jobless is on the increase in such society among women just because of dressing.
The way you dress is the way you will be addressed has been discussed widely in this essay from the professional societal, sexuality, and gender perspective. At the end of it all, it depends on an individual and how that particular individual wants to be addressed in society. Some people have their careers well established and even though they control how other people dress especially their spouses and children they care less about how society views them.
The conclusion of the matter is, even though you may care or be careless about how you are addressed, one should maintain personality and morality through decent clothing. If you expect society to give you the respect you deserve or demand so much from it then you might just have to meet society’s expectations. The respect and value one deserves first starts with valuing oneself and expressing it on the outside in the mode of dressing. If someone is evil they tend to express it through their dressing as dressing in black and scary dressing and when some are good they tend to dress in an angelic dress.
The way your dress is the way you will be addressed can find its place in your life if you give much thought just to improve on your personality through the dressing. It does not have to cost a lot of money but just a bit of creativity and being open-minded to change and improve on your dressing together with what you have and a little bit of change your can move from being addressed as a gateman to excuse me, general manager, through dressing from rags to dressing in a suit. There is so much joy in one’s life as being accorded respect and honor even when one does not deserve it. They leave the place feeling complete than they came and have much morale to achieve what they never thought they would achieve in their lifetime. Imagine if this can be achieved only in dressing how much value and consideration should be placed on clothing.
Garber, Marjorie. Vested Interests: Cross-Dressing and Cultural Anxiety. New York, NY: Routledge, 1997. Print.
Hirschberg, Stuart , & Hirschberg, Terry. Every day, everywhere:global perspectives on popular culture. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2002. Print.
Schultz, James, Alfred McCracken Peggy, and Lochrie Karma. Constructing medieval sexuality. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. 1997. Print.