Laver's Law of Fashionable Clothing



James Laver (1899-1975) was a British historian of art and fashion design. He composed the above model to depict the changing social perceptions of women's fashion. In his 1937 work Tastes and Fashion: From the French Revolution Until Today, Laver wrote:

The modern young man can contemplate without emotion the entire area of the female leg and a considerable portion of the stomach. In the nineteen-twenties, for the first time in many hundreds of years, the female leg was exposed to general view. The bust, however, also for the first time in many centuries, was not supposed to exist at all, and women who did not mind in the least exposing their lower limbs would have been embarrassed if called upon to wear a deep decolletage.

In short, the female body consists of a series of sterilized zones, which are those exposed by the fashion just going out, and an erogenous zone, which will be the point of interest for the fashion which is just coming in. This erogenous zone is always shifting, and it is the business of fashion to pursue it, without ever actually catching up. It is obvious that if you ever really catch it up you are immediately arrested for indecent exposure. If you almost catch it up you are celebrated as a leader of fashion.


Do you agree with Laver's model?

Link via Geekosystem | Image: Fashion Era

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I agree that this "law" of fashion needs to be updated a bit, because it was made a long time ago and much like technology has changed fashion has changed quickly as well.
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I can tell you, as someone who works in a middle-class department store, that the 80's and 90's have very much made their way back into fashion. We have day-glo neon green and pink and stirrup leggings in stock, and they are being purchased. In fact, I would say that the neon of the late 80's and early 90's is this years big thing among teens. It makes my little heart cry at what is coming back.
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I agree, the principle is sound but, as with many things over the past hundred years or so, cycles have sped up so that the intervening time periods are now far shorter. All the posters above wondering how the eighties could ever become classic - for the past few years the shops have been full of 'retro' eighties looks (sadly). The early ninties are just coming back into fashion - this however, is the high-end fashion looks and not your mum's multicoloured tracksuit
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