Sunday, November 20

Fashion 101: U

Raise of hands: how many hear this word non-stop around fashion week?  It's often a go-to description for looks, but what exactly does it mean?


Definition:  Clothing that primarily serves a functional purpose, such as providing warmth, protection, or some practical use.  The majority of work clothes that one associates to a particular profession are utilitarian, but such garments are sometimes adopted  into mainstream fashion.  Denim jeans were originally hard-wearing work trousers developed for Californian gold miners.  Contemporary designers have appropriated utilitarian values and styles as can be seen through various interpretations of the cargo pant: a loose-fitting trouser with several deep pockets and a hammer loop, traditionally worn by skilled manual workers such as carpenters.  The emphasis in such a garment is on practicality rather than style although, through appropriation, it often becomes a style.

Tapeet Moto Boots
A huge trend in utilitarian fashion has become the moto boot, based on functional motorcycle boots.  It went from steel-toed clunky black boots to fashionable, heeled boots with a similar buckle on the upper.

Credit: The Visual Dictionary of Fashion Design, Ambrose & Harris


  1. Hehe, as soon as I hear the word utilitarian I think "utilitarian theory of punishment in our legal system, etc." Law school brain!

    Love this post, though. One of my faves :)

  2. I need more utilitarian clothing in my closet outside of the yoga type. I hadn't thought of the application of this word to half my wardrobe but it fits!


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