Volume 91, Issue 14

Friday, September 19, 1997



Clothes Obsession

By Laura Hepp
Gazette Writer

Every day millions of people roll out of bed and are confronted with the eternal question: "What shall I wear today?" Like it or not, clothing is an inalienable and complex part of daily life.

If you're not convinced, think of the countless hours spent primping ourselves and picking out just the right outfit. Take, for example, my roommate (who shall remain unnamed for purposes of my personal safety). An evening out requires, on average, an hour to create the perfect ensemble. Clothing is always strewn around the house while outfit after countless outfit is carefully and cautiously examined in every mirror. There are certain criteria that must be met before an outfit can be donned: the appropriateness of the outfit according to weather conditions and in relation to the chosen establishment to be attended that evening; a lengthy list of possible people that will be in attendance and if those people have seen her in a similar outfit and last but not least and the ever present fat factor.

Males and females alike know about the fat factor. For men, it takes on the form of the dreaded question that the girlfriend/roommate/sister/friend asks at least once a week: "Does this make me look fat?" And men know there is no perfect answer to this question. If their answer is "no," they're accused of being liars; if their answer is "yes," they're accused of being insensitive; and if there is the slightest hesitation before the answer of "no" is given, they're not only accused of being liars but insensitive liars at that.

Many people share the same obsession with clothing and a significant number of those are stars. Singer Celine Dion, for example, attributes her frequent clothing purchases to an addiction of sorts. Not only does she have a multi-million dollar wardrobe but a multi-million dollar closet, no doubt larger than the dorm rooms at Saugeen, which includes mechanized rotating clothes hangers and shoe racks.

Another example of the clothing obsession is the annual award shows. Every time they are aired, the topic of conversation is about who is wearing what and which designer's name is attached to it. The prizes handed out appear merely secondary in comparison. What's more, one couldn't wager an accurate guess as to how many billions of dollars the clothing industry brings in every Christmas after all the sweaters for sweethearts are purchased. For computer users who punch in "fashion" for a web search, approximately 18,945 subject headings pop up. Suffice it to say the society we live in today is one that has an obsession with clothing.

Why is it that clothing plays such an important and dominant role in our lives? Although this isn't a psychological analysis of our preoccupation with fashion, clothing has everything to do with self-image. It impacts the way people see themselves and how they view others. Dress influences many facets of life from the work place to the social arena. People can tell volumes about personality from fashion senses on display, as many people use clothing as an opportunity to express themselves.

At one time clothing was a mere necessity to shield our bodies from the harsh elements of the environment. Historically, society has always been interested in fashion. The nobility and aristocracy have always been fashion trendsetters. In modern times, the late Princess Diana and Jacklyn Kennedy-Onassis are included in the list of 20th century trend- setters. But fashion has never attained the genderless, classless and all- encompassing scale it has reached today.

Despite predictions, no one really knows where the future of fashion is headed. However, fashion is and always will be, a personal preference just as food or drink are. Luckily, you can't get fat or intoxicated from the love of clothes.

To Contact The Features Department: gazfeat@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997