There is a sense of nobility that comes into play when deciding how to dress oneself for varying occasions and times. Across every era, every age, it has not been so much a mundane or automatic function, but rather a heroic act in choosing what message your style will covey to the outside world and how your appearance will affect the way you see yourself and your capabilities in what you are wearing at the time. In every region of the earth, from the most advanced to the most remote, this notion is apparent and is manifested so uniquely in each nationality as its own embodiment. In this regard, we can examine fashion as an extrinsic layer of our identity and being, and come to understand that what is worn has never at any point in time been solely material or meant only for protection against elements. In light of this, what has each period revealed, and what is the message that we should be both transmitting and receiving through our dress?
While there are a myriad signals we can send through our choice of shirt, pants, outerwear, or even socks on any random day, let us look back a few centuries and examine the works of one armorer who was responsible for the breastplate seen on the left. In times of war and royalty in antiquity, to simply dawn a piece of armor was not enough, whether one was guarding a kingdom or going to war. What was equipped in these times reflected strength and beauty through intricate detail and effort. Sensibilities were not so much expressed through the word of a warrior as much they were in their appearance; the men knew this, the women knew this, and both were keenly aware that what they wore and considered appropriate every day would form the basis on how bravely one would fight, how fiercely they would love, and how freely all would live within such a possible world.
Return to modern-day garb and examine the change in shape, form, color, materials, and overall ideas that previous styles have shifted from. What we have now is a reflection of civilization that shares a small collection of similarities, a limited amount of threads originally meant to form a strong rope of creativity and passion. While past abstractions may fuel many of today's world of fashion as frames of reference, what has been the shift in values and effort? It's clear that styles of dress today are not necessarily without taste or character, though we do see a decline of individuality in personal style, a normalized static and lack of rhythm and presence. Of course, we know that fashion is not everything, but we also know that it takes more than sinew to set a precedent for one's physical appearance. But what does that mean when deciding how one should be mapping out their wardrobe in a world of insipid ideas and monotone messages? We need not abandon simple styling and minimal color and form, but rather strive to embrace both ends of this spectrum, keeping in mind that modesty does prove just as integral to expressing and composing oneself as does outward expression.
To find the balance between dressing appropriately and dressing ancestrally while applying your own taste and vision is what I see as the key to both optimal style and the true essence of fashion as a concept and paradigm. It was said by fashion designer, Yohji Yamamoto, that "to be modern is to tear the soul out of everything", leaning toward the idea that while it is nearly impossible to avoid modernity entirely, one must not disregard where so many of our ideas come from, but rather use the years we've collected to build unique styles individually in our time now. Allowing the culmination of centuries and countless elements of today's influence to shape what one wears are only the advents of what is involved when considering dress, as we then must consider how our personal choices of garments involve the world around us. For example, is our appearance displaying strength? Are we demonstrating a sense of modesty and pride while expressing our ability to perceive and understand genuine inspiration? These are the questions that we must ask when shaping our style, as it will in turn shape our attitude, our ideals, our respect, our social circle, and the values we choose to fill this world with.
Our clothes are meant to reflect who we are on the inside; the intrinsic dispositions that are conveyed from the outside when all other forms of communication and expression fail. While the body and language are still major components, they are only parts of the equation to optimal presence. As important as this is to our identity and the roads we pave to a future society where individuality can flourish, we must allow style to shed its stationary skin and continue to be ever changing, every evolving and always open to motion and growth while always keeping in mind its beautiful foundations. Let your appearance represent the sum of all years, before and after your time.