How Style And Identity Overlap in Fashion Design

How Style And Identity Overlap in Fashion Design

 Identity is defined as the fact of being who or what a person or thing is. As individuals, we are constantly growing and evolving throughout our lifetime. It seems that we are constantly changing and growing into becoming the person who we are meant to be. As we constantly revise and renew our identities and personalities, our style does as well. If I dressed the same way I did when I was six years old, my closet would be filled with costume princess dresses. As I have matured and grown since my days of playing dress up, so has my style. Today, I will be exploring the dynamic between identity and personal style

How Does Fashion Relate To Identity 

Our own personal style is a wordless form of reflecting our character. As world renowned author Virgina Wolff said,  Vain trifles as they seem, clothes have, they say, more important offices than to merely keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world’s view of us.” The clothes we choose to wear are a reflection of our personalities and backgrounds. Clothing can also reflect a specific milestone or cultural event occurring in our lives as well. Here are four external and internal aspects that factor into the clothing that we wear. 


Followers of different regions around the world celebrate their beliefs through the way that they dress. In Christian denominations, many will walk around wearing accessories with a cross on them. This represents the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and symbolizes God’s mercy and love for their people.

In Islamic, Jewish, and some Christian cultures, a  Hijab  is worn by a majority of women who celebrate these religious beliefs. Ranging from a head scarf to head-to-toe coverings, many women choose to wear it out of modesty and privacy reasons. Let it be known that wearing a hijab is not a form of oppression against women, or a refusal to conform to mainstream political/societal views, but a choice that women who follow these religions make. 

In Judaism, men ( and some women )  will wear a yamaka or kippah   when attending the synagogue or religious event, or while praying.  Most women typically wear some form of head scarf during these events as well. Wearing one represents one’s devoutness to their religion and their beliefs. 

Religion is a very influential element in the lives of billions. Our beliefs can influence our identities, how we treat and view others, and how we live our daily lives. The clothing and/or accessories we wear represent the religious beliefs of many. 

 Culture Events and Milestones

Various costumes and forms of dress are worn during certain cultural ceremonies to celebrate their beliefs, history, and traditions. In Sierra Leone, teenage Mende girls are qualified to become members of the Sande association. Over the duration of a few weeks, these girls are taught songs and dances that are traditional to Sierra Leone culture. Leaders also explain their future roles as wives and mothers. During this period, women are covered in a white chalk and shell based pigment and decorated in ornaments that represent their status in society. Once this process is completed, a parade is held in honor of these girls. Women are dressed in extravagant clothing and uniform hairstyles while performing masquerades during the parade. Women also wear shiny black masks along with their coiffure to symbolize the role of women as the root of their culture. 

Another example of how dress is used to celebrate an individual’s milestone is in wedding ceremonies. Traditionally, a woman will wear a white wedding dress to symbolize her purity and innocence. A veil is also worn to symbolize modesty and obedience. Though women are no longer treated as objects, these traditions are still used today. Wedding rings are also worn as a symbol of a couple’s love and devotion to one another. Rings are worn on the left hand because ancient Greeks believed there was a vein in that finger that went straight to the heart. This is still practiced today. 

Costumes and traditional dress are used to enrich the celebration of either an individual’s milestones, or draw us closer to one’s culture. When we retrace our roots and celebrate our own histories, we add a component to our identities that make us feel unique and whole. In order to engage in these rituals, clothing is an essential item that will help us celebrate our engagements to the fullest.


Finding the words to articulate our feelings can oftentimes be too far out of reach. When we can not say how we are feeling, we can turn to clothing to help fill in the blanks. We best convey through the element of color.   

Color is one of the most powerful elements to express emotion. Researchers have found that wearing a specific color can affect the mood of the wearer and the people around them. For example, wearing blue can express faithfulness, loyalty, and curiosity. Pink can express romance. Orange expresses energy, humor, and warmth. Whether or not we have noticed before, we see this practiced in our day to day lives. We wear black at a funeral to portray grief and sadness. We wear white at weddings to celebrate purity and new beginnings. 

Outside of the fashion world, color is also used in film and live theatre. A character’s costume, a filter over a camera, the color of the stage lights, can all portray a character’s personality and set the mood. Even various shades and hughes and pigment combinations are used in art pieces to manipulate the emotions of the viewer. Color is used in these settings to further convey these sentiments. You can use these to your advantage when expressing a theme in your future designs and collections. Color play can help create the mood you want your viewer to read. Overall, color is the best way to say how we are feeling without speaking a word. 


Clothes can express our status in society. Our socio-economic wealth determines our class and overall place in society. Expressing one’s status can reflect an individual’s prestige, privilege, and power in society. Our status can be expressed in many ways through clothing. 

The designers we shop from express one’s wealth. Buying expensive clothing and accessories is used to express a person’s wealth. Regardless of the quality or style of an item, if a popular luxury logo is featured, it will have value for this reason. 

The overall quality of the item is also used to articulate the wealth of an individual. The type of fabric, products, or finishings of an item give an idea of how expensive it was to create, thus how expensive it was to purchase. Organic textiles, cashmere, silk, and furs as well as embellishments made out of intricate hardwear are examples of this. 

Our wealth is a part of our identity and background. We express this through lavish and expensive items. If we can show the world we can afford luxury items, we reflect our economic status. This in turn reflects our privilege and class in society. 

How Does A Person Use Clothes To Define Their Personality

Clothing was originally created as a way to protect one’s body. Different textiles and furs were used to keep early humans warm and acted as a barrier between one’s skin and the rest of the world. As humans have evolved, so has clothing. We have branched out our clothing designs and functions beyond using it as a form of security. Now, we use it to express our individuality.Clothing is a powerful, yet silent form of expression. We can indicate one’s identity and personality through clothing. From one’s religious beliefs, to personality traits, to an individual’s morals and economic status can be shown through a jacket, a purse, or even an accessory such as sunglasses. From goth to classy chic, it is important to celebrate all the different types of styles so that we all feel we have a place in fashion. When we dress in a style that makes us look good, we begin to feel good. And when we feel good, we carry that self confidence throughout our day.

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How Style And Identity Overlap in Fashion Design In this post, we're looking at the concept of Identity and Style and how they can help designer in developing their collections.
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