From Theory to Reality

By Sallie McAllister

Though fashion may seem separate from anything scientific, it is actually one of the easiest ways to study and learn about individuals. Not to mention, it is free; all it takes is observing and comparing individuals to one another.


In this first picture, I’m sure most of you know the setting, time, and place of its taking. Upon Kate Middleton’s engagement to Prince William in 2010, she opted for a simple yet classic navy wrap dress by her favorite brand Issa. After Kate’s engagement, the London-based fashion label faced demand so huge that it almost hurt the company, Issa chairwoman told Vogue. Unlike Zara or H&M, the company didn’t have the overhead, materials, and staff to match the sudden skyrocketed demand. This scenario, and the Kate-effect in particular, is an example of the trickle-down theory. There will always be someone to imitate the upper class. We saw this same phenomenon with Princess Dianna, Jackie O, and many other famed women; we want exactly what they have.

ImageIf the Issa dress worn by Kate Middleton was out of your price range, rest assured that our first lady may be your girl. When hearing about reverse ostentation, I immediately thought of Michelle Obama. I have read countless times in different sources this lady’s love for affordable clothes. Yes, she can afford to wear expensive clothes and designers would love that. But, this woman of power chooses to dress down in price, and according to the codes of reverse ostentation, this must be the thing to do. And it is. Today, the American who scores the best bargain is applauded. People proudly say “Forever 21!” in response to “what a beautiful dress!Like Bill Gates and Steve Jobbs, Michelle Obama has a love for affordable fashion even when she doesn’t have to. Like many of ours, Michelle’s favorites include Gap, JCrew, Zara, White House Black Market, and Target.

ImageThis last photo is of Taylor Momsen, best known as Jenny from Gossip Girl and Cindy Lou Hou from How the Grinch Stole Christmas. She is also the lead singer for the band “Pretty Reckless” and a poster child for conspicuous outrage. She can be seen wearing all black ripped clothing, including black lipstick and mangled hair. She dresses as if to say “I’m my own person and not concerned with style.” She has no desire to be mainstream or accepted, and so she runs in the opposite direction. I find her career quite symbolic to this. She became famous for singing the song “Where are you Chrsitmas, Why Can’t I Find You?” and her most recent hits are called “Kill Me” and “Make Me Wanna Die.”

There you have it. From theory to reality, fashion has existed since the beginning and will continue to exist so long as people wear clothes. In fact, one English author wrote (in the 1700’s) that “fashion is the science of appearance, and it inspires one with the desire to seem rather than to be” (thinkexist, 2013).

Read more about fashion theory below:

Fielding, H. 2013, April 2. Retrieved from