Viewing thru of
No high resolution image exists...
There are those who believe that taking an interest in fashion is essentially unethical. They feel it leads to such vices as vanity and materialism, and that it breaks society into classes, the fashionable and the unfashionable. Although I do agree that if the fashionable are not careful such undesirable effects might occur, it does not seem accurate to suggest that they must. Indeed, if it is used wisely, I believe fashion can bring many positive things to our lives as well. The question is, how do we use fashion wisely?
People tend to look up to those with a sense of style. The fashionable are often perceived as successful, popular, and even intelligent, placing them in a position of power over those who look up to them. Many of us know what it feels like to catch the glance of someone admiring our personal style, but the way we respond in such situations is what defines how each one of us actually uses fashion. Do we lift our chin, avert our gaze, and play superior, or do we use our unique circumstance to make eye contact, smile, and lift the spirits of a stranger? The ethics of fashion, as far as I see them, revolve in large part around whether we use the influence that having a sense of style can give us to empower other people, or to empower ourselves at their expense.
Another element of this issue involves the way in which having a sense of style can impact the stylish directly. General issues surrounding retail therapy and excessive spending aside, there is a deeper layer to this as well. I imagine that most of us have had the experience of being in a wonderful conversation, when sparks are flying and time is beginning to stand still, yet all of the sudden some trivial thought about the way we look pops into our heads. Perhaps we briefly doubt whether we’ve chosen the right shirt for the occasion. In one minute we seem to be experiencing all of the goodness in the universe, then in a flash of self-consciousness we become distracted and even insecure. This chain of events represents one of the subtle impacts that maintaining a sense of style can have. If we’re not careful, being fashionable can make us self-conscious.
But being stylish does not have to have these effects. I believe it can serve as a playful means of engaging in artistic creation, not for the sake of acquiring admiration, but for the joy of creativity and the love of inspiration. We might play with fashion because we value the creative process in our lives. We might pick out our clothing with the same sensitivity and creative energy we call upon to write a song or paint a painting. Furthermore, we might value the idea of adding something beautiful to the world, or serving as a muse for those around us.
There are many sound reasons why one might take an interest in fashion. However, if we wish to experience all of the good things that fashion can bring, and avoid all of the trouble, we must determine to use our style wisely, and dress for the right reasons. For as it is with power in general, the influence that can arise from maintaining a sense of style can be used to bring beauty and goodness to the world, but it can also be used to take that goodness away.