Let’s Get These Straight: Clothing, Fashion, and Style

To many people, the similarities and differences of clothing, fashion, and style have been unclear—myself included. And some people are still confused with these concepts.

Having asked a few of my friends about this, I have noticed that they pretty much have an idea on the meaning of the words but they somehow need extra time on comparing and contrasting these concepts. So to get these concepts straight, I also did my research.

Clothing or dress is “a general term that includes not only garments, but also aspects of personal appearance that can be changed such as grooming” (Tortora and Eubank, 2010).

On the other hand, style is “the predominant form [or way] of dress of any given period or culture” (Tortora and Eubank, 2010).

While, fashion is “a recurring cultural pattern [or style], found in societies having open-ended class systems” (Gold, 1964).

All three concepts involve any or all parts of a clothing. Clothing is used to communicate fashion (for a short duration of time) and style (for a long duration of time). Fashion influences style and style influences clothing.

Furthermore, clothing may be permanent or temporarily changed every time or day; fashion is dynamic and changes so often; and style takes longer periods of time before it changes.

Lastly, I think fashion is shared or may be personal; style is more personal; and clothing is intimate or most personal.


Eubank, K. and Tortora, P. (2010). Survey of Historic Costume. In Part Two: The Middle Ages (5th Ed) (pg. 102). USA: Fairchild Books

Eubank, K. and Tortora, P. (2010). Survey of Historic Costume. In Preface (5th Ed) (pg. xx). USA: Fairchild Books


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