Before we reached Florence, I had absolutely no idea that two cities within three hours of each other could seem like such different worlds. Florence is a city representative of historical architecture, narrow streets, and modern companies. The city gives tourists and residents a taste of contemporary and old lifestyles. Today, we visited one of the most beautiful art galleries which houses both Roman and Greek paintings. Observing the fashion of the people in these painting and comparing them to modern fashion allowed us to understand the progression of clothing design and the ideals behind dressing in a particular style.
Most of the paintings incorporated colors that represented certain values. For example, the women who wore black were associated with negative stigma such as death. Most of the painting were versions of Virgin Mary in which she always wore blue which symbolized purity and red which symbolized charity. In one of the paintings, the pearl accessories represented Tuscany. This contrasts today’s fashion because colors usually don’t symbolize particular values. Instead, the style dictates people’s value. For example, if a woman wears excessively short or limited clothing, it is considered more revealing where as covered clothing symbolizes a more conservative approach. In addition, trying every new trend despite what the public perceives as “normal” clothing symbolizes a more bold and carefree style. Thus, instead of colors representing values as they did in the paintings, today, colors symbolize styles and individual approach to fashion.
In terms of gender, the paintings depicted how clothing representing society’s perspective of gender roles. For example, fashion for women often included accessories and heavy clothing that were styled above the stomach which caused women to look pregnant. Men dressed in casual clothes because they worked to earn money for the family. In contrast, women dressed fancier because they remained at home and cared for children. Today, men and women wear different styles, however, this is not due to gender stereotypes. Men and women both have certain clothing for occasions including casual, business, and elegant. The fact that men wear pants and shirts while women also wear skirts and dresses does not signify gender stereotypes. Both men and women dress for the occasion through unique styles.
In some of the paintings, such as the ones of men and women at elegant feasts, I had a difficult time identifying the figures as men or women. Both the men and women wore hats and long flowing clothes. Men wore darker colors such as black and their clothing flowed differently than dresses. However, from a distance, both clothing styles seemed similar. Today, men and women dress completely distinctly for elegant occasions. Women still wear skirts or dresses but men usually wear suits, dress shirts, pants, and ties. The gender difference did slightly confuse me because in some paintings men and women dressed similar, but were usually depicted completely differently to represent gender stereotypes.
Another stylistic difference between clothing style in the past and now includes that actual clothing. In a number of these paintings, the style stems from draping long robes around the person in the painting. A female diagonally wraps this rope across her body and ties the rest around it. It reminds me of an Indian sari. In addition, this cloth can also be worn on the head. Today, this fashion does not exist. I have never witnessed a woman wearing this kind of long piece of clothing around her for fashion. However, for men, pants, and shirts for casual clothes still exist. Granted, no long robes exist for men. Despite the robe, the pant and shirt have remained the same for men and much of the fashion has progressed for women.
Two words to capture today: fashion and fun. In all honesty, that captures every day. Visiting a world-renowned gallery and studying the fashion of the figures in all the paintings allowed me to realize the kind of opportunity I am blessed to have. This may be one of the only times that I am allowed to analyze and enjoy fashion on this level and I promise you I am taking advantage of every second of it. Here’s to the style changes society has faced and how every day is a new step toward progression in the fashion industry. Until next time- Ciao!