Anthropology, the study of culture and human societies, studies fashion by asking why certain styles are deemed socially appropriate and others are not. A certain way is chosen and that becomes the fashion as defined by a certain people as a whole, so if a particular style has a meaning in an already occurring set of beliefs that style will become fashion. According to Ted Polhemus and Lynn Procter, fashion can be described as adornment, of which there are two types: fashion and anti-fashion. Through the capitalization and commoditisation of clothing, accessories, and shoes, etc., what once constituted anti-fashion becomes part of fashion as the lines between fashion and anti-fashion are blurred.
In the 16th century, national differences were at their most pronounced. Ten 16th century portraits of German or Italian gentlemen may show ten entirely different hats. Albrecht Dürer illustrated the differences in his actual (or composite) contrast of Nuremberg and Venetian fashions at the close of the 15th century (illustration, right). The "Spanish style" of the late 16th century began the move back to synchronicity among upper-class Europeans, and after a struggle in the mid-17th century, French styles decisively took over leadership, a process completed in the 18th century.
1 : to give shape or form to : to make, construct, or create (something) usually with careful attention or by the use of imagination and ingenuity fashion a lamp from an old churn a figure fashioned from clay … delegating to the commander-in-chief the power to fashion the rules of the military justice system …— Fred Strasser Up there in the mountains old ladies … are still hooking rugs … and fashioning dainty dolls out of corn shucks.— Richard Atcheson