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Earlier 19th century fashion styles and their cultural and historical significance at the time - Essay Example

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The 19th century witnessed a large number of social reforms touching all spheres of life ranging from democracy, education, slavery, and women’s rights. Replacing the traditional view of using dress and ornaments to indicate social and gender class, the industrial revolution…
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Download file to see previous pages As Lynch and Strauss point out, it becomes evident from history that the concept of beauty is not set by women but by the mainstream society and also that the mainstream society redefines the same from time to time. In other words, it can be said that the evolution in society and social thought is well expressed in fashion too (12).
To begin with, in the ancient times, the most important factor of consideration while selecting a partner was health. While men had to engage in hunting in order to support their families, women had to be able to meet birth needs. That means, in the ancient times when survival was of utmost concern and the sick had little chance of survival, large muscles made a man beautiful and wide hips and large breasts made a woman attractive.
As Hyland states, until the social economic development of Greece during the fifth century B.C, there was no clear concept of beauty. However, as painting and sculpture developed, beauty was attributed to certain essential features (45). To illustrate, Plato considered beauty as a result of symmetry and harmony which creates a golden proportion. The ideal face had to have a width which is two-thirds of its length. In addition to this attraction towards symmetry, in the Greek and Roman culture, one can see an affinity towards blond hair.
However, one can see that during the Middle Ages, woman had to face a lot of hardships in the name of fashion. To illustrate, in Europe, the period saw woman as predators who posed a carnal challenge, and this situation was created mainly by religion. So, women were restrained from even wearing jewelry, and this restraint almost solely came from clerics. As a result, married women had to conceal their hair in order to avoid arousing desires in others; though virgins were allowed to expose their hair. However, blond hair was something to be frightened as it directly meant an invitation to ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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