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IELTS reading passage – Fashion and society
Fashion and Society : A Historical Perspective
Every society “dresses” the human body, and the wardrobe plays significant and aesthetic roles everywhere. The colour scheme of clothes often has a special meaning. For instance, a white wedding dress represents purity, while a black wardrobe symbolises mourning for a deceased relative. Uniforms represent affiliation with a specific profession. Purple, the colour associated with monarchies for centuries, was forbidden for everyone else to wear. Of course, clothing has always been used to emphasise an individual’s elegance, even if various societies have varied conceptions of beauty. For instance, Flemish artists in the 16th century in Europe praised ladies with long faces, bulging tummies, and bony shoulders, while women plucked or clipped their hairlines to achieve the trendy egg-domed forehead. The fashion industry nowadays views these features as very repulsive.
It seems that adornments such as body painting, jewellery, scarifications (scarring), tattoos, masks, and often restrictive neck and waist bands were the first types of human “clothing.” The body was altered in several of these ways, including deformation and reformation. Men’s and children’s bodies were also changed, not only women’s, since there appears to be a general human urge to exceed the restrictions of the body and alter it into something it is not by nature.
Dress in general appears to perform a range of social purposes. This pertains to both modern and historical clothes. Fashion, whose main attribute is a quick and continuous change of trends, is what has been added to clothing as we recognise it in the west. In the 14th century, as European cities developed, fashion began to emerge. Earlier, both genders wore loose robes, and the fashions were basic and consistent. Clothes differentiated the affluent from the poor and the monarchs from the ruled, with the exception that working class people wore mostly woollen and no silk, coarser fabrics, and far fewer ornaments than their superiors.
Furthermore, as world trade expanded, cities grew, and royal and noble courts became more sophisticated by the 14th century, rapidly changing styles began to appear in western Europe. These were connected to improvements in tailored and fitted clothes; once garments were fitted, there was virtually no limit to the number of unique ways they could be styled. By the 15th and 16th centuries, it began to be viewed as shameful to dress out of fashion. Consequently, people who could afford to do so started getting rid of outdated stuff since it was simply out of style. In mediaeval times, cloth, which was very costly, actually represented and symbolised wealth.
Every kind of clothing in mainstream western countries has been influenced by fashion, which dictates how individuals should dress. Even workplace dress codes have shifted from formal, business attire to a more relaxed, smart casual look. Even the less privileged love haute couture; they wear less expensive replicas of the top designs and top brands. Uniforms have even been produced by a few of the top fashion brands.
Even some unfashionable clothing is a reaction to current fashion trends. Being unfashionable is a revolt against the societal principles of the fashionable, not a choice to disregard fashion. The hippies of the 1960s established a distinctive look using a variety of secondhand clothing, handmade crafts, and army surplus items as a method of rebellion against the squandering of the consumerist society. They objected to the wastefulness of wealth as well as the way mass manufacturing neglected individuality.
When viewed historically, fashion trends show a crazed relativism. At one point, beige cashmere and grey suits were the fashionable clothing of the affluent, with gold garments adorned with pearls. In one era, males parade with beautifully curled hair, stiletto heels, and rouge; in another, doing so invites physical assault and social exclusion. In some ways, it is innately paradoxical that the beginning of a new trend is the rejection of the old and sometimes an enthusiastic adoption of what was once deemed hideous. A prime example is the outrageous fashion statement that today’s non-conforming, rebellious adolescents who have tattoos, metal studs, and body piercings make. They violated the rules of modern fashion, only to have their disobedience become the current trend in broader society. Furthermore, having formerly defined style decades earlier, these ornaments have already come full circle.
Despite seeming irrational, fashion enforces societal standards and solidifies group integration. It compels us to acknowledge that the human body is an organism in society as well as a biological entity. We can convey how we share the majority of their ideals and beliefs by dressing in a similar manner. Contrarily, alterations in clothing are often seen as startling and upsetting. In western democracies, a man attending a job interview in a pink suit will not be taken into account for a job at a bank. He wouldn’t be taken seriously. Similarly, even in these “liberated” times, seeing a guy in a skirt in many Western countries still elicits a great deal of uneasiness, hatred, or amusement.
While fashion is prevalent among all ages, there is still scope for clothes to show distinctive taste. In any time period, fashionable clothes come in a variety of colours, fabrics, and styles. This was especially true in the 20th century, when fashion was mass-produced without losing its fixation with the new and unique. Initially, fashion was mostly reserved for the affluent, but since the industrial era, the mass manufacturing process of fashionable clothing has made it feasible for the majority to embrace fashion as a way of self-expression and self-enhancement.
Fashion And Society IELTS Reading Questions
Answer the questions below. Choose NO MORE THAN ONE WORD from the passage for each answer.Write your answers in the boxes 1-3 on your answer sheet.
- During the mediaeval times, what was the symbol of wealth?
- A group of individuals protested against the social values of the fashionable. Who were they?
- A type of decoration worn by rebellious young people nowadays, apart from body piercings and metal studs.
Complete the table below. NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER from the passage for each answer. Write your answers in boxes 4-9 on your answer sheet
|Period||Clothing Behaviour||Types of Clothing|
|Earliest Times||wearing 4. ________||body painting, tattooing, masks|
|Pre 5. ________||simple, unchanging styles||6. ________|
|14th century||7. _________||8. __________|
|15th-16th century||9. _________||use of doth|
Complete each sentence with the appropriate ending, A-J below. Write the appropriate letter A-J in the boxes 10-13 on your answer sheet.
|A.||had little effect on non-conforming youth.|
|B.||was made possible with the development of tailored and fitted clothing.|
|C.||was felt in the workforce with the change to informal wear.|
|D.||allowed the less affluent to buy styled clothes.|
|E.||was made possible with the increase in sophistication of the royal courts.|
|F.||distinguished the rich from the poor in earlier times.|
|G.||was fell by top designers seeing fake, less expensive designer clothing on the market.|
|H.||caused anxiety and hostility in western clothes.|
|I.||gave the individual a means of self-expression.|
|J.||was seen as something shameful in earlier times.|
10. The impact of fashion
11. Mass production of fashionable clothing
12. Wearing outdated clothing
13. The styling of apparel
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Fashion and society IELTS Reading answers
5. 14th century
6. loose robes
7. rapidly changing styles
8. tailored and fitted/ tailored, fitting clothing
9. discarding unfashionable clothing
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