Dress & The Sexual Psychology

Kristina Akhrarova

When once instituted, for whatever reasons or by whatever process, dress became a source of physical reactions for its intimate connection with personality. In the ages before dress, people underwent the process of natural adaption by means of environmental influences.

The most obvious of these natural adaptations is pigmentation. The skin of man is graded in color from the Equator to the Pole. For instance, the darker skin pigmentation guards against the actinic rays of the sun. The blondness of northern races, like the white color of Arctic animals, keeps the heat of the body. The British settlers in North America have taken the aboriginal type of the Indian face and head. Migrants from lowlands to uplands develop round-headedness. From the temperate regions to the tropics man develops frizzly hair, and so on.

Frequently, clothing can be compared to a house. For instance, the animal never exposes itself unnecessarily. If there are larger animals, it can get covering like a shelter. A similar argument applies to the ornamentation as a sexual stimulus. But for the humans, wearing clothes can help to be active in circumstances where animals seek shelter. For example, Chaco Indians wear costumes and paintings in perfect harmony with the surroundings. Thus, there is a real continuity between the adaptive color of the chameleon, and the harmony which human dress may show with its surroundings.

In Europe, dress was basically restricted to women for the past centuries. Before that, the attempts were taken to put down any tendency on the part of women, prostitutes being excepted. The previous stage is still that of Islam. And, the female dress should not be ornamental, but protective of the husband’s rights. Thus, women as a sex has not only gained freedom, and the right to fascinate, but has also shifted the equilibrium of sex to a more permanent and efficient position. So, the dress shows an important social movement.

Clothing stands in relation to the sexual life, where the male jealousy instituted dress for married women. The primary function of her dress is to make her unattractive to others, to conceal her body from other men's eyes. Often, married women alone are clothed. It is as if before marriage a woman was free and naked; after marriage, clothed and a slave.

"The first to wear complete clothes is not the man, who has to dash through the forest, but the married woman."

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Accessible Fashion History Education

San Francisco, CA
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