Costumes

Costumes

The term costume refers to the prevailing style of dress and accessories typical of a given region, historical period, social class, or profession. Costume is what a person wears, and what a person wears speaks volumes. Costume provides humans with warmth and protection from the elements, which are necessary for survival. Costume has developed a complex visual vocabulary and set of choices that send signals about the age, gender, occupation, activities, ethnicity, social status, personality, and religious and political beliefs of the wearer.

There are two distinct categories of dress. Ethnic or traditional dress identifies the origin of the wearer by displaying choices of color, style, and pattern favored by a particular cohesive cultural group; its design and construction changes very slowly over time. The opposite is true with Western dress. Market-driven styles change rapidly as new silhouettes or basic shapes of clothing appear and displace old ones. Fashion reflects tastes in dress, manners, and style of a particular place or time. Fashion designers and celebrities from the sports and entertainment world greatly influence fashion trends. Adolescents and young adults seeking to establish an identity through new and outrageous attire also influence fashion. Expensive designer collections are imitated and eventually appear as inexpensive mass-produced clothing. Throughout the world, pop culture trends disseminated through an ever-more-pervasive mass media have tended to discourage the preservation of traditional dress. Increased affluence has created more leisure time for recreational activities, generating a market for attire for special activities, for evening, formal events, recreation, and work.