Sunday, October 4, 2009

Functions of Dress

Functions of dress are specific reasons why individuals of society choose to dress the way they do. This blog entry will explore the six main social functions of dress: Ceremonialism, Decoration, Gender Differentiation, Environmental Protection, Sexual Enhancement, and Group Membership.


American women, and women from around the world, wear beautifully adorned dresses (called wedding dresses) to symbolize their wedding day. After the day has passed, the dresses are cleaned and carefully stored away. The dress is then kept for sentimental value, given away, or sold. This function of dress is called ‘Ceremonialism’. Ceremonialism is a function of dress in which the wearer selects his or her attire for a special occasion or ceremony. After the occasion had ended, the garment is often cleaned and stored away.
This dress is a part of the fall 2009 Vera Wang collection.
This photo can be found at:


Some individuals wear couture for the look, precise fit, excellent quality, and exclusivity. This function of dress is called ‘Decoration’. When an individual dresses for decoration, the wearer is dressing for looks and adornment. Decoration is considered to be the main function of dress.
This dress was designed by Charles Worth c. 1878.
This photo can be found at:


In most cultures there are certain styles of dressing for men that distinguishes them from women and vice versa. This function of dress is called ‘Gender Differentiation’.
In the photo above (taken in the 1920’s), the women (flappers)are dressed in baggy, boxy attire, and wore short haircuts.
This photo can be found at:


Many times, different cultures dress in different ways in order to protect themselves from the environment they live in. This function of dress is called ‘Environmental Protection’. In the photo above, the Eskimos are wearing heavy, warm clothing that is covering them from head to toe. This clothing is made from fur, and is protecting them from the cold environment by keeping them warm.
This photo can be found at:


Individuals often wear skimpy, revealing clothing in order to enhance their bodies in a sexual manner. This function of dress is called ‘Sexual Enhancement’. In Sexual Enhancement, the wearer wears the garments to feel more sexually desirable. However, each culture has their own definition of sexual desirability.
In the photo above, supermodel Heidi Klum is wearing lingerie made by Victoria’s Secret.
This photo can be found at:


There are many people who choose their style of dress based on wanting to belong to a certain group or organization in society. This function of dress is called ‘Group Membership’. In Group Membership, many people wear uniforms, and dress under different apparel classifications such as: preppy, hip hop, punk, etc.
In the photo above, the individuals are dressed in a punk style of clothing to signify their connection to the punk community.
This photo can be found at:

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