Interest in clothing and personal adornment remains strong in early adulthood. Because they know that appearance is important to success in all areas of their lives, young adults frequently spend more time and money on clothing and grooming than they can afford. Below is the list of importance of clothes in personal and social adjustments.
The Roles of Clothes in Early Adulthood
Improvement of Appearance
Young adults select clothes that enhance their good features and camouflage their less attractive ones. When telltale signs of aging begin to appear, they choose clothes that make them look younger than they actually are.
Indication of Social Status
Young adults, especially those who are socially and vocationally mobile, use clothes as status symbols that will identify them with a particular social group.
Even though adults want their clothes to identify them with a particular social group, they also want them to have enough individuality to be noticed and admired by the group members.
Few things are able to proclaim economic success more quickly and in a more subtle way than clothes. Expensive clothes, a large wardrobe, and clothes from name designers and manufacturers all tell that the wearer has enough money to have such clothes.
Men and women whose bodies are not as sex-appropriate in appearance as they would like them to be select clothes that enhance their sex-appropriateness.
Unlike interest in physical appearance, interest in clothes does not lag as adulthood progresses. Instead, it remains strong and often increases in intensity as both men and women discover that attractive, expensive clothes help them to success in any area that is important to them, whether in business, social, or family life. As Bickman has explained, clothes “may seem to be superficial qualities, but they are important determinants of one person’s reaction to another.”
Clothes as Status Symbols.
Status symbols are marks of distinction that set the individual apart from others. They may take any form but, in adulthood, the common status symbols are cars, homes in prestigious neighborhoods, club membership, travel, and material possessions.
What are status symbols in one social area will not necessarily be in another area. There are fads in status symbols just as there are fads in clothes and cars. However, most young adults know what status symbols are highly prized in their communities. Knowing that they are indications of social and economic success, the typical young adult is eager to rise as fast as possible in the vocational world in the hope of acquiring the material possessions that will proclaim high status.
While an automobile is a major status symbol for the adolescent, a home is the most important material possession of the young adult. Although a home may be important to older people mainly in terms of comfort, to the young adult it means prestige in the eyes of others. Packard has explained this as follows:
One reason the home is replacing the automobile as a favoured way for demonstrating status is that a home can be a showcase for “culture”. In a home you can display antiques, old glassware, leather-bound books, classical records, paintings. These are things a car can’t do.