A scientist on fashion: evolution or regression?


Fashion has progressed throughout time, gradually changing from practical attire, to status symbol, to work of art. Even Darwin himself could not have envisaged an evolution so terrifyingly fast, least of all the vast majority of us who have barely progressed beyond our prehistoric sabre-tooth skin leotards. Back in modern times, styles come and go fleetingly. The ugly and unappealing forced into extinction whilst the attractive survive and flourish within their niche of the ‘trend pool’; until the season changes that is. These ebbs and flows are determined by experts of the field; creative, artistic, fabric royalty ruthlessly ruling their world; a single word determining the inexorable rise and fall of such trends. Never satisfied, always pushing the limits, riding the line between abstract and abhorrent.

Now herein lies the problem, why must things change? Why must today be different tomorrow? Why do boundaries need to be pushed? That said I am no expert. My sartorial ambitions aim no higher than managing to look like I got dressed with the lights on today. I even manage to fall short of these embarrassingly low sights; smart casual was the goal for a recent family photo and I was pleased, perhaps prematurely, with what I had cobbled together. This momentary satisfaction instantly crushed by a pitying, “Well if you think that goes…”

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that clothes must surely be reaching a point where this tweaking is no longer necessary. Take the recent influx in skinny fit chinos, a godsend to those of us blessed with a complete and total lack of lower leg muscle, akin to a plucked goose. However, there is now a new beast roaming the landscape, the elasticated ankle; a motif that previously only graced the waistbands of those who couldn’t be bothered with zips. What possible use could this extra embellishment provide, save accentuating the feature I was hoping to obscure by wearing slim fit chinos in the first place?

It isn’t just our trousers that have been confused by such ‘improvements’; short sleeved jumpers, meaningless slogans and V-necks so deep it takes a four-man expedition to reach the bottom are all the unhappy accidents of progress. Now to my point: this perpetual development leads to one thing and one thing only, ridiculousness. Take Lady Gaga for example; who for reasons beyond my comprehension is a role model and inspiration to many millions of people and yet is constantly conjuring up outfits that could only be conceived mid-nightmare. Perhaps the time has come to bring an end to this exponential evolution of fashion before we all end up treating our local butcher’s abattoir like the catwalks of Milan.

By James Holder

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