Via Postcrossing I received a 40-year old postcard from Leszno, Poland, which shows different folk costumes. Folk costumes are often associated with a geographical area or a period of time in history. It is a way in which an identity can be expressed. This is also the case for clothing in general. One example is a school uniform, which clearly shows that the wearer is a student.
Clothing can also be a symbol of one’s culture, for example the wedding dress. A handy classification of cultural differences is the onion-model of Hofstede (1). Symbols are the outer shell of a culture; they are easily created and disappear easily as well, and only have meaning for members of that culture. For example, the red colour of a wedding dress, which is common in eastern cultures, symbolizes auspiciousness.
Do you have any examples of how clothing symbolises your culture? Have you seen shifts over time?
(1) Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture’s Consequences. Comparing values, behaviors, institutions and organizations across nations (2nd ed.). London: Sage Publications.