What is fashion?


What is fashion?

By Jeff Sawyer

“Fashions fade; style is eternal.” – Yves Saint Laurent

Let’s explore fashion.

The first part of the word, fash, is a Scottish verb. It means to worry, or vex. It’s a descendant of the early French word fascher, which evolved from the Latin fastus, meaning disdain, scorn, or contempt.

Not cheery so far, this word.

The second part of fashion is ion, a noun. It is a particular type of atom or molecule.

Put them together and you get worry over every molecule of your wardrobe.*

Every fiber of your body agonizing over every fiber on your body. Fashion hardly seems aspirational. Or enjoyable.

And then there is extra-strength fashion: fast fashion, with its ethically challenged position on sustainability.

You think of Paris when you think of haute couture, but in fact many Europeans eschew wardrobes overflowing with the next new thing in favor of fewer things. Better things. Things that last. Designs that traverse the seasons.

Their closets are smaller. Less is more.

As more people catch on to the idea, fashion as we know it may fade.

But elegance, quality, grace … they’ll always be in style.

* Note to etymologists, who by now are cringing: I am making this part up.**

** Note to readers who may have thought etymologists studied insects: those are entomologists. Etymologists study language.

PS. Entoetymologists study insect language.***

*** Not really – I made that up, too.