Clothing Makes the Man

Published: 2021-09-11 21:00:10
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Category: English

Type of paper: Essay

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There is an old saying, "clothing makes the man," and there is a lot of truth behind this saying. In Ancient Greece, slaves often wore no clothing, making it them easy to identify. During the Middle Ages, the color purple signified royalty and no one else could wear that color. In many cultures, people wore black to show they were in morning and brides traditionally wear white to show their purity. Adornments such as jewelry and tattoos also separated classes. While modern society does not adhere to most of the strict rules of dressing from earlier times, clothing and adornments still play a large part in how people communicate with the world. Even when people do not mean to, they communicate information about themselves by the clothing, tattoos, and jewelry that they wear.
Throughout history, clothing has marked differences in classes, gender, status, power, and social standing. How people dress affects how they are perceived by others. A man who walks into a job interview dressed in a tailored suit expects to be treated differently that a man who arrives dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. Daniel Barney, author of Curriculum and the Culture Body, states that "Dress can also be an uninvited display of one's place in a socioeconomic order or other hierarchical structures such as gender, age, or politics" (Barney, 2005) The markings on clothing, often referred to as "branding," also affect how the wearer is treated. Nathanial Hawthorne's book The Scarlet Letter tells the story of a woman forced to wear a scarlet "A," signifying her as an adulteress. Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party forced people of Jewish origin to wear a yellow Star of David on their lapels, so that they could easily be identified. Marks like these were intended to separate a group of people from society, making them outcasts. However, in society today, branding on clothing is a deliberate choice.
In studying clothing as a form of communication, Malcolm Barnard stated that the process model of communication allows the wearer to "send intended message that is transmitted to another person via the garment" (Barney, 2005). Clothing can advertise everything from a favorite brand of soda to a political ideal. Clothing also allows the weare to send a message of authority and power. Police and military uniforms give the wearer a sense of authority that society responds to. Other styles of clothing, such as the hooded uniforms of the Klux Klux Klan, are designed to frighten and intimidate others. Members of criminal gangs identify themselves by the colors they wear, and the how they wear their hats and other clothing. According to the North Carolina Gang Investigators Association, one of the largetst gangs in America, the Crips, ""represent to the right by tilting their hats to the right side, wearing blue-colored laces on the right shoe, and rolling up the right pant's leg" (North Carolina Gang Investigators Association, 2011). Other gang members who see these clothing choices are able to identify members of the Crips by their dress. Jewelry and tattoos are other ways that people in a society can communicate with others non-verbally.
Jewelry and body adornment through piercings symbolizes and communicates many different things when worn by member of different societies. A crown worn by a king stands as a symbol of power, while a wedding ring on the left hand marks a person as being taken. Body piercings, such as those on the eyes, lips, tongue, ears, and other body parts, has been around since Ancient Rome. Warriors in Ancient Rome use to pierce their nipples as a sign of bravery. (BBC UK, 2008). In America, in modern times, body piercing has become a way of expressing individuality. In a study doen by BBC, one participant said that her navel piercing "makes (her) feel very well dressed and elegant" (BBC UK, 2008). However, many members of the business world view body

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