The relationship between culture and fashion is intrinsic and dynamic. Cultures across the world use clothing to make statements on the nature of power relations, personal relationships and hierarchies within communities. The links are diverse and often complex, involving sociological and psychological research. It is therefore important to find a good dissertation topic that reflects these concerns, one that is flexible and dynamic, while allowing room to focus on specific research questions. Your chosen topic simply must reflect your own interests and concerns, as well as the trends of contemporary research. Choose something that is comparable, not too remote, and something that might interest, or even entertain, your examiner. A good dissertation topic will already have a substantial amount written about it, but will also offer you the chance to put your own individual thoughts and ideas across.
For centuries fashion has been identified as reflecting changing cultural trends, and is especially relevant to the high profile world of music and celebrity culture. What are icons? Why do we need icons in today’s society? These are the sorts of questions raised during the study of celebrities and fashion. Dynamic and particularly relevant to young people’s culture, this subject offers a closer look at the celebrity culture and how it is used and portrayed in the fashion world.
Fashion history has the largest body of research from which to draw from in writing a dissertation. Pictorial analyses are useful to make specific comparisons between certain aspects of dress that have changed and those that have stayed remained relatively the same. This subject is a rich and interesting field of research, with an array of historical research to choose from. Some of the more obscure, rare books on fashion through the ages can be particularly useful. It is important to remember that contemporary fashions bear obvious and subtle links to fashions throughout the ages, and that most items – such as the hat, jacket, and shoe – have remained relatively unchanged in shape, concept and function for a very long time.
Contemporary styles have both diversified and limited traditional looks. For example, fur has gone out of fashion to the extent of being illegal, while tartans remain ever as fashionable as they always have done. Regional styles are interesting to study as they can be effectively compared across the country, e.g.: Rural/Urban wear. Fashion has been intrinsically linked to leisure for centuries – especially through mediums such as the theatre and sports. Within this relationship exists a complex and powerful history of changing cultural tastes and beliefs. Why do we wear certain items of clothing in certain places or for certain activities? What would happen if we didn’t? Why do we need to conform? These are the sorts of questions explored in the following subjects:
Children’s fashion has an incredibly imaginative and diverse market. On the more affordable end of the scale second-hand clothing shops are very popular as children outgrow clothes so readily that very good condition and even new items can be bought at low prices. At the other end of the scale designer children’s clothing can be extremely expensive and affords a competitive market. More than any other types of Western clothing, children’s fashion incorporates emblematic and symbolic imagery – especially relating to fairytale, folk-lore and hero worship. Beneath are listed some key debates, ideas and discussions which would make enjoyable and challenging research topics:
The image of the body is pivotal to our understanding of the fashion world. This area of research is one of the most popular and contemporary topics – what might be described as ‘cutting edge’. Often involving the complex interplay between perception of self and others, our understanding of image is closely associated with the media. Powerful presentation is key to the appreciation of the aesthetic image, and the media has had a very important role to play in promoting and shaping body image over the last fifty years. This is a challenging and interesting area to study, and offers the potential to use a wide range of research methods, such as interview and ethnographic research.
Design is an integral area of study in culture and fashion as it is constantly subject to change and reflects current tastes and cultural trends. Some designs and materials – such as denim jeans – have a durable marketability, often reflecting retro trends, whereas public service wear – such as flame retardant clothing for firemen – often has to reflect current developments in technology regarding health and safety. The following list is especially useful for students looking for less abstract, more tangible dissertation topics:
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