Gender Identity through Fashion and Clothing
Unlike sex, which determines an individual’s biological traits, gender notions are fluid social and cultural concepts that change with time. How we construct our gender identity with clothing today wasn’t the same throughout ages. Fashion wasn’t always strongly gender dependent like it is today. The gender scarred fashion statements of today are result of a long evolutionary process that was altered with various socio-political phenomenons over time. Until 18th century, both men and women preferred to wear long and decorative clothing. Though there weren’t many significant differences in clothing of men and women till 18th century, it is possible to examine the evolution of clothing as a medium of gender expression and understand it’s relationship to gender specific roles and social status.
The costumes of earliest civilizations are studied from cave paintings, sculptures and other iconography. Though clothing never varied drastically on basis of gender in ancient world, social class identity was however established through dressing norms even in the earliest of civilizations. Nudity was a very natural concept in most ancient civilizations including those of Egypt, Greece and Indus-valley. In fact, gender specific nudity norms tagging exposure of breasts as obscene was established only after influence of Christian missionaries and Islamic invasion in most parts of the world.