It is said that your dressing defines your personality. It is also said that the place, time, occasion and season determine what you wear, writes GARDY CHACHA
Events in the recent weeks on school girls clamouring for uniforms that reflect modernity has got public tongues wagging, ministers throwing in some two pence, and parents waxing lyrical. Debate has turned into a pandemonium making us lose sight of what needs to be addressed: How should a young woman dress and what and who determines how they dress in different locales?
“In most instances, a young woman’s dressing is determined by personal values, beliefs, lifestyle, identity, society, peers, opposite sex appeal and the media,” says Catherine Mbau, a counselling psychologist. “Identity and social status also play a role in influencing the young’s dress code.”
While modernisation has led many into dressing to suit fashion trends of the day, the larger African society is still adamant in clothes inspired by Western fashion industry. This could be attributed to the fact that as time went by, the hemline seems to have risen to new heights.
Paulina George, a professional designer in Nairobi, says that for ladies to dress well, they should consider what forms the basics of dressing.
“Why are you dressing yourself? What environment will you be in? What is your feeling about yourself; your personality? What message are you passing to whomever you’ll encounter? Does the weather and what you will be doing corroborate your dressing?” poses Paulina. “At the same time, considering that culture has input in what people, especially ladies, wear, use those borderlines to define the clothes you wear. A human being should dress for their own comfort and that of whoever will be looking at them.”
Making a choice on what is appropriate to wear on occasion requires as much good taste as it is to dress elegantly. In this instance, elegance is a virtue you carry with you, or rather use to define yourself differently. Appropriateness, good grooming and adherence to a dress code are key to having good clothing etiquette.
“There is a reason why doctors, mechanics, secretaries, nuns, office persons and even prostitutes wear in the manner they do,” states Paulina. “If you dress like a prostitutes, then you can’t blame anybody for thinking you are one.”
What you’d wear to work is not the same as what you would wear when attending a night party. But for many young people, instead of making a statement about themselves through what they wear, the statement is directed to the peers they socialise with. Catherine explains that the media has a big role in influencing how young women dress. She adds that values and belief systems are formed at first by the family unit, though a lot has changed due to our interaction with the outside world.
Jedida Wanyeki, a mother to teenagers, adduces that Western culture’s percolation into our society has changed how ladies dress.