The only place to read about Harper College from Harper College students VOLUME 50, ISSUE 2 – MAY 2018

Style as a Form of Expression: Then & Now by Jorge Rivero

Humans originally began wearing clothing for warmth and protection from the environment; they likely weren’t even thinking about what their apparel looked like. The first distinguished clothing items may have been used to indicate leadership roles or demonstrate power or wealth in a group. The concept of fashion began to emerge when people started having time and resources to care about expressing themselves through their garb. By the time Harper was founded in 1967, fashion was used to show a personal beliefs and group identities. Today, clothing and accessories are still used to express one’s cultural background and values.

In the early 1960’s most women’s apparel would be described as classy and included tailored tops, sleek dresses and shoes, and matching hats. But where did the style come from? Fashion was inspired by icon Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, former first lady of the United States, spouse of former president John F. Kennedy. Jackie’s style perfectly

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executed her role; she wore dresses without collars, and jackets that buttoned, typically with only one button at the top. With white pearls and tailored suit dresses, Jackie’s fashion got the attention of older women. Women found her style “swell” and copied her with enthusiasm.

Popular 1960’s fashion was very rich and vivid, everything was based on two colors such as blue and white, blue and yellow, and pink and black. The 60’s clothing wasn’t the only thing that made it fashion, it was the hair style too. Beehives made their first appearance on a musical group called the Ronettes and began to appear in movies and TV shows. The bombshell is also another very popular hairstyle that came around the 60’s where sexuality became increasingly embraced and women wanted their long flowing hair to look sexier. Compared to the 2000’s women wore more hats in the 60’s then now, although the 60’s ran out of its style it is still rarely seen in the 2000’s.

Women who wanted to express counterculture, otherwise known as hippies, wore longer hair, floral prints and headbands, and sandals. Most men in the 60’s wore suits with one or two colors as well, but many men also wanted to challenge the social order and wore tie dye shirts and bellbottomed jeans in association with the hippie movement. Leather vests with colorful bandanas and sunglasses with denim were also typical styles for hippies. These styles were meant to represent the voice of the people in protesting racial discrimination, gender inequities, and the Vietnam War.

The 2000’s style still continues the tradition of demonstrating counter-culture through clothing, accessories, and hairstyles. For example, young men and women who identify more with counter-culture wear hoodies, beanies, hairstyles, facial hair, jewelry, and shoes that display brands and celebrity names associated with hip hop or urban culture. However, today’s fashions are much more tied to high profile brands and displays of money than they are about the ideas behind them. The look and style of clothing in the 60’s feels like more of an authentic representation of one’s values compared to the 2000’s in which there is more attention to companies and labels in comparison to ideals. In 1980s a hall of famer basketball player named Michael Jordan released his very first signature shoe in 1985 called “Air Jordan’s;” this shoe’s popularity still goes up today and the prices doubled since. At first it started out as a signature shoe now it’s coming in different colors and material. Now just the Air Jordan’s but the brand “Jordan” has gain an audience on all ages. Specific shoes from the same brand are sold for hundreds and even thousands. Everything that kids, teen, and even younger adults wear are based from an athlete or an artist. These shoes are an example of expressing admiration of an athlete and a brand, not so much a statement about values and protest.

Our taste in style and fashion is distinctive because anything can be popular whether it’s a shoe or a color, people will wear it if it’s seen; young people wear these items to be in

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fashion rather than as a way to express their beliefs. Athletes and recording artists have now become the drivers of fashion and have partnered up with a company. For example, Multi-Grammy award winner Kanye West has his signature shoe with Adidas as does Pharrell Williams who is also a musical artist. Some brands reflect political and social consciousness in clothing, and protest shirts continue to be popular to support movements such as Black Lives Matter.

Overall, clothing has become a revolution towards what we wear and this shows that words and actions aren’t the only things that start or ends a movement. It started out as survival to protect us from the environment, but now we select clothing based on other situations or threats in life such as social injustice. In the 60’s they wore a specific color or pattern to show their support of or against something; now our clothes continue to reflect our roles in society and how we identify within various social movements. Fashion is what you buy, but style is what you do with it.


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