Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Clothing fashions

Early Western travelers, whether to Persia, Turkey, India, or China frequently remark on the absence of changes in fashion there, and observers from these other cultures comment on the unseemly pace of Western fashion, which many felt suggested an instability and lack of order in Western culture? The Japanese Shogun's secretary boasted to a Spanish visitor in 1609 that Japanese clothing had not changed in over a thousand years.

However in Ming China, for example, there is considerable evidence for rapidly changing fashions in Chinese clothing. Changes in costume often took place at times of economic or social change, but then a long period without major changes followed. This occurred in Moorish Spain from the 8th century, when the famous musician Ziryab introduced sophisticated clothing-styles based on seasonal and daily fashion from his native Baghdad and his own inspiration to Córdoba in Al-Andalus. Similar changes in fashion occurred in the Middle East from the 11th century, following the arrival of the Turks, who introduced clothing styles from Central Asia and the Far East.

The beginnings of the habit in Europe of continual and increasingly rapid change in clothing styles can be fairly reliably dated to the middle of the 14th century, to which historians including James Laver and Fernand Braudel date the start of Western fashion in clothing. The most dramatic manifestation was a sudden drastic shortening and tightening of the male over-garment, from calf-length to barely covering the buttocks, sometimes accompanied with stuffing on the chest to look bigger. This created the distinctive Western male outline of a tailored top worn over leggings or trousers.

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