The European idea of fashion as a personal statement rather than a cultural expression begins in the 16th century. As Albrecht Dürer recorded in his actual or composite contrast of Nuremberg and Venetian fashions at the close of the 15th century. Fashions among uppe class Europeans began to move in synchronicity in the 18th century; though colors and patterns of textiles changed from year to year, the cut of a gentleman’s coat and the length of his waistcoat, or the pattern to which a lady’s dress was cut changed more slowly. Men’s fashions derived from military models, and changes in a European male silhouette are galvanized in theatres of European war, where gentleman officers had opportunities to make notes of foreign styles: an example is the “Steinkirk” cravat (a necktie).
The pace of change picked up in the 1780s with the publication of French engravings that showed the latest Paris styles. By 1800, all Western Europeans were dressing alike: local variation became first a sign of provincial culture, and then a badge of the conservative peasant.
Fashion in clothes has allowed wearers to express emotion or solidarity with other people for millennia. Modern Westerners have a wide choice available in the selection of their clothes. What a person chooses to wear can reflect that person’s personality or likes. When people who have cultural status start to wear new or different clothes a fashion trend may start. People who like or respect them may start to wear clothes of a similar style.
Fashions may vary significantly within a society according to age, social class, generation, occupation and geography as well as over time. If, for example, an older person dresses according to the fashion of young people, he or she may look ridiculous in the eyes of both young and older people. The term “fashion victim” refers to someone who slavishly follows the current fashions.
One can regard the system of sporting various fashions as a fashion language incorporating various fashion statements using a grammar of fashion.
This is a trend of the 21st century: Capri pants, handbags, sport suits and sports jackets, ripped jeans, designer jeans, blazer jackets, and high-heeled shoes.