Fashion in the United States
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Apart from professional business attire, fashion in the United States is eclectic and predominantly informal. While Americans' diverse cultural roots are reflected in their clothing, particularly those of recent immigrants, cowboy hats and boots and leather motorcycle jackets are emblematic of specifically American styles.
Fashion norms have changed greatly from decade to decade. The United States has generally followed and in some cases led trends in the history of Western fashion. It has some unique regional clothing styles, such as western wear.
Blue jeans were popularized as work clothes in the 1850s by merchant Levi Strauss, a German immigrant in San Francisco, and adopted by many American teenagers a century later. They are now widely worn on every continent by people of all ages and social classes. Along with mass-marketed informal wear in general, blue jeans are arguably U.S. culture's primary contribution to global fashion.1
The country is also home to the headquarters of many leading designer labels such as Ralph Lauren, Victoria secret and Calvin Klein. Labels such as Abercrombie & Fitch and Eckō cater to various niche markets. Another type of clothing worn throughout the United States by many types of people is the T-shirt. It can be plain and white, or colored with company logos or funny messages. T-shirts are arguably the most worn type of shirt in the United States.
Dress norms in the United States are generally consistent with those of other post-industrial western nations and has become largely informal since the mid 20th century. Clothing in the United States also depends on a variety of factors including location, venue, and demographic factors such as ethnicity. Blue jeans are a consistent fashion trend among all classes.
The western states are commonly noted for being more informal in their manner of dress than those closer to the eastern seaboard. Furthermore, individuals belonging to certain ethnic groups such as some Native American tribal members and individuals of Scottish descent may wear clothing to represent their ethnic identity at certain events. Conspicuous consumption and a desire for quality have also lead to a strong preference for designer label clothing among many in the middle and upper classes.
The toleration for body expression that deviates from the mainstream such as complete body tattoos or nudism is strongly linked to the sub-culture and location in which an individual may find him or herself. Generally speaking the United States tends to be less tolerant towards nudity than Western Europe, even in more tolerant areas such as California. As stated above the tolerance shown for personal expression such as cross-dressing, piercing, etc... varies greatly with location and sub-culture and may be completely appropriate in one venue while being taboo in another.2
- Davis, Fred (1992). Fashion, Culture, and Identity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p. 69. ISBN 0-226-13809-7.
- Thompson, William; Joseph Hickey (1995). Society in Focus. Boston, MA: Pearson. 0-205-41365-X.