What is fashion? - What is a brand name? - What are trends? - What does "Fashion" mean? - What are its effects on teens? - What do YOU wear?

What is fashion? Fashion is everywhere we look-- its the clothes we wear, the bags we carry, the hats on our heads, the jewelry on your hands, fingers, ears... it comes in so many forms, styles, materials, and brand names. Fashion isn't just how one looks or dresses-- it's how one feels, how one behaves.

One of the oldest sayings known to man is "Never judge a book by its cover," meaning "Don't judge someone by apperances." Yet judging by appearances is an inherant human flaw; when we look at someone, our first impression of them is formed, solely based on how they look. Further judgements are made AFTER we get to know the person's personality-- how they talk, act around others, or what they do for fun.

No one is exempted from the permanent spotlight the world places on each and every individual; not even celebrities. Stars, such as the late Judy Garland (left) are normally considered idols of fashion, models to mimic. Yet, in Garland's famous "hobo" role, the beautiful Judy Garland wore tattered clothing, and a face smudged with oil and grease. It didn't matter that, underneath all that, she was still a famous actress merely portraying a part-- she assumed every bit of the identity of the hobo she played while in character. Likewise, when teenagers dress differently, people rush to judge them. The way someone wears their shirts or pants; the way someone styles their hair, or even the way someone wears their earrings are all "clues" to a person's inner personality-- or so we have been taught to believe. Generation after generation has inbred the thought that "What you see is what you get," and first impressions count for everything. But if you take a second look, you'll see how different people can be, with just a simple change of outfit:

Garland's most popular role as Dorothy Gale from the popular The Wizard of Oz (pictured right) turned the then-16-year-old Judy as the youthful heroine of L. Frank Baum's classic children's story, The Wizard of Oz. Through the use of a gingham-print dress, a clear, make-up free face, and simple pigtails with bows, Judy Garland became a sensation in the movie world, as the 12-year-old Dorothy Gale of Kansas. Her innocent look, desire to dream of a bigger, brighter world is vividly shown in her role-- quite the contrast from her role as a hobo.

Similarly, another simple change of dress transforms the disheveled "hobo Judy" or the innocent "dreamer Dorothy" into a sexy, shining example of what women of the day could only dream to be like. Shown below, Judy Garland wears a sexy, revealing evening dress, her hair styled up in gentle curls. Unlike her previous two outfits, this one portrays a completely different, more adult side of the actress. Fashion affected people's views of her then, and fashion continues to influence others' perspective of people now.

What is a brand name? Brand names are a method of identifying a specific kind of product to a specific manufacturer. Brand names pop up every day, in every industry, and vanish within years. Others last generations, and some brand names are well-known by people of all ages because of how long they have lasted.

The five most well-known brand names include Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Nike, Microsoft, and MasterCard. These companies have all been around for over a decade, and are seen around the world, in all sorts of advertising campaigns. In the same way that industries advertise to promote their various products, fashion is a method of advertising-- constantly exposing people to all sorts of styles, designers, logos, colors, and patterns.

What are trends? As defined in Webster's dictionary, a "trend" is "the popular taste at a given time." Today's trends are very different from what they were in the 1920s, and different from what they were last year. In terms of fashion, trends change with the weather, as no one in the world wears the same clothes year round. As the times change, trends in fashion change too-- not just general, seasonal clothing, but also shoes, hats, accessories-- every aspect of fashion changes to adapt to something the consumer wants.

Check out some of the trends prevalent in the fashion for American women in the 20th and 21st centuries:

1900s 'S'-emphasis outfits with wide, poufy dresses; push-up blouses, lace, buttons, ankle-length dresses
1910s Corsets; tight-fitting, high-collared dresses; ankle-revealing dresses, chemise dresses with simple boat-neck collars and waist-height "belts"
1920s Flappers; studded, glittering dresses; the V-neck collar; feathers; sequins; tassels; lowered waistline; less curcy clothing; acetate and rayon (artificial silk) fabrics; fur trim; bobbed hair; rolled stockings
1930s Subdued colors; loose-sleeved blouses; padded shoulders; pill-box hats; overalls; wavy, shoulder-length hair; geometric and abstract prints in moderation; shocking pink color; first appearance of the midriff
1940s Pleated skirts; plaid; flannel; shirt-waister dress; rolled-up jeans; ponytails and braids; sloping and geometrically-designed shirts;
1950s Glamourous evening dresses; wide-brimmed hats; poodle skirts; ponytails; sheath dresses; Oriental-style clothing (cheongasms, kimonos);
1960s Mini-skirts; floral prints, unisex clothing; baby-doll details; Hawaiian motifs; no hats or gloves for daywear; vinyl and other synthetic fabrics; tube tops
1970s Bell-bottom pants; paisley print; hot pants; denim clothing; ethnic styles; peasant shirts; shirts with slogans; bright colors and pastels; patterned tops and solid print bottoms; polyester fabric; pantsuits; platform shoes; afros; excessive gold jewelry; beaded add-ons or accessories
1980s Men's-based, tailored suits; two or three-piece outfits; elastic, spandex; turtlenecks; bright, rainbow colors
1990s Wide-leg, flared pants; Capri or 3/4 length pants; hibiscus print, halter tops; very low-collared shirts and blouses; pastel, "baby" colors, especially "baby blue"; bright oranges and yellows as popular colors
2000 The "little black dress"; black as a sophisticated, popular color; khaki color
2001 Collared, button-up "trench" jackets; 3/4 length shirts; stonewashed denim; brown as a trendy color
2002 Fitted jackets; flowing blouses; corduroy; dark denim; hankerchief-style hair covers and patterns; sparkly denim; folded and bleached denim; more blues and purple colors; red

Resources: Fashion Through the 20th Century, Vintage Vixen

So you've seen what trends are and how they've changed through the years, but it comes down to one simple question-- what does "fashion" mean? Fashion is more than the clothing you wear-- it's the way you present yourself. Regardless of where you are in the world, fashion is with you, in every culture, every ethnicity or nationality, every city, town, or village; every religion-- absolutely everywhere.

Fashion is the "make" of something-- the who, what, when, where, how of something's manufacture. It is the popular style or adornment at a given time. Fashion isn't any one thing, it's a million different things, all around the world, all at once.

When we begin to focus on fashion and today's generation of teenagers, we can see the influence, plain and clear. Teenagers are the young, gullible market-- they are the voluntary walking advertisements, they are the money-spenders. Fashions effects on teens depend on many variables-- such as where in the world you are, what income level of teenagers you're focusing on... the list could go on and on.

For the Digital Media Academy project, we're focusing on low-to-middle income teenagers in the major metropolitan city of San Francisco. Teens attending George Washington High School provide a wide diversity of opinions and beliefs on fashion, its effects, its reach, and its changeability.

So now, get ready to discover fashion... and what it does to us.

--On to Section 2: Where's It At?-->