Form or Function

2008-09-12 09:32:58
Fashion is fickle. I originally would have contended that it is also pointless; however, I had to change my mind.
When pondering this rant about fashion, I had one opinion. However, as I turned the issue over in my mind, I realised I had completely missed the point.

First, let me define what I'm talking about. There's a couple of general types of fashion to which I refer. First, is wearing particular clothes or shoes, or owning certain items (like cars or gadgets), solely because they have some desirable label. The second is the seasonal following of the latest styles (usually yearly, but not necessarily).

I still remember an argument I had with my mother over fashion. I was 15 or 16 at the time, and needed new shoes. I distinctly recall sitting on a chair in the kitchen, while my mother made dinner, with her grilling me trying to find out what everyone else was wearing at school, and me trying to convince her that I didn't care what everyone else was wearing, they just had to be comfortable and practical. I think I won, in as much as we bought simple practical and comfortable shoes. On the other hand, i still don't think i convinced my mother of my point of view.

So, as you may have guessed, my thesis is that function is more important than form. For example, clothes that "look good" (and sometimes that's a matter of opinion) but are not comfortable, are pointless. Or cars that are twice the rational price ("rational" meaning derived from cost of the features included) because the badge is a status symbol are likewise pointless. And for me, this is completely true. For me, function is much more important than form. Clothes are a practical item meant to cover the jiggly bits demanded by cultural modesty, and to regulate my temperature (either up or down, depending on the environment). Similarly, cars are a transport device; it might be nice to have fancy features, but said features are still strictly a cost/benefit tradeoff. Name badges are a pointless luxury.

As I thought about this more, I tried to come up with a convincing argument for why function is truly more important than form. Then it hit me: it is always true, but it's a matter of defining what is meant by "function". For some people, the looking "good", or the kudos that they get (or think they get) is actually the function of the item (beyond it's strict practical applications). And for some of those people, it's actually worth the extra money that is spent.

So my rant is pretty much defused. I may not agree with those who use items as status symbols, or not-so-subtle methods of proving that they are somehow better than everyione else, but I have to acknowledge that ultimately they have the same perspective but different values to me They have my grudging respect (as far as it goes), just as long as they realise why they do what they do.

As for the remaining disturbingly large group of people who buy all the overpriced junk thinking it means something that it doesn't: grow up, and tthink about it for a bit. Save your money for something useful until you can actually acknowledge and understand the value you're getting, and what currency it's in.