On our fifth day in Italy, we began the day by traveling to Florence via a private coach, and then walked around the city of Florence and toured the famous Uffizi Gallery. We also got to see many large churches and buildings, but the highlight of the day still remained the Uffizi Gallery. Florence is home to 80% of European art, and the Uffizi Gallery is the main art museum of Florence, so it was a privilege to be able to visit it. At the gallery, one thing that stood out to me was the differences in the ways people dressed during the era of the paintings vs. the way people dress today. There have clearly been multiple social revolutions since many of these paintings, including gender roles and utility of clothing, which have changed the way people dress completely. During my time at the museum I decided to look into these differences and tell how these changed myself.
The Uffizi Gallery is comprised of artwork that dates all the way back to the 13th century. There are many visible differences in the gallery between how people dress now vs. how they dressed then. The first thing that I learned about this on the tour was that when the artwork was painted, women were commonly trying to dye their hair blonde, as blonde hair was often romanticized. These women would go through extremely vulgar practices to dye their hair, including soaking their hair in urine. In modern day culture, the hair scene is completely there is no hair that is known to dominate and even though people often dye their hair, no specific color seems to outweigh any other the dying process, as tend to be more inclusive today in the way hair is styled and in the color of hair. Another difference between the way people dressed then and the way people dress now is that people often had only 3-4 pieces of each type of clothes back then and rarely got the opportunity to wash them. It was more common for people to buy a few really nice clothes instead of many cheap clothes. In the present, we often favor many cheaper clothes, however, some Italians still buy few clothes that are more expensive than many cheap clothes just not to the extent of people in the past. It is clear that modern day Italians value fashion than most other cultures, so with this connection it is safe to say that people in the era of these paintings also often valued fashion. Another notable difference between the way people dressed back then and the way people dress now is the amount of color in each article of clothing. Back in the era of the paintings, clothing was often single toned, however today’s clothes tend to have a wide variety of color schemes, with some being full of brand labels and multiple colors. In the era of the paintings, people were often completely exposed or completely covered, as nudity was romanticized while when people wore clothes it was seen as sinful to show bare skin. In modern day society, people are usually in between with different clothes, as fully exposed is seen as inappropriate and fully covered is seen as too censored in most cultures. These opinions on amount of clothing have completely flipped in the last few centuries and this must have been done through many different revolutions. Another difference is in the utility of clothing. Back in the era of the paintings, clothing usually only had one purpose, which was to either keep people warm or to just cover people up. In today’s society, we have many uses for clothing which involve being stylish as a cultural norm. These utilities include keeping up with trendy styles, clothes that are waterproof, or clothes that can function as both formal and informal like button-downed shirts. This change likely has occurred gradually through changes in technology.
In my opinion, I think that everything has changed over the years with the advancement of technology. A lot of this ties in with supply chain management, as when there are more steps in ensuring quality in a product, the quality will be a lot better. The technological advancements that allow for a lot more detailed and intricate clothing include different materials used, more transport, and more globalized ideas. The average clothing item today has parts coming from all over the world, while the average clothing item back then was only created in one area. The fashion supply chain has come an extremely long way, and the fact that I have come all the way to Italy to learn about it further emphasizes its improvements. I had a great time learning about the differences in clothing today vs. in the era of the Uffizi Gallery, and I can’t wait to see what else Florence has to offer. Stay tuned!