As national economies grow increasingly international, clothing styles have become correspondingly global. Young people in Johannesburg and Jakarta, Boston and Buenos Aires all tend to wear the same kind of clothing. However, different cultures have modified these originally European styles in accordance with local values and lifestyles.
In particular, religious beliefs have influenced the
clothing that women wear in public. Thus, a woman in Iran may wear blue jeans and a
T-shirt at home, but cover them up with an enveloping robe called a chador when she
goes outside. In addition, many people enjoy wearing their traditional clothing on
holidays and other special occasions for reasons of national or ethnic pride.
Fashionable clothing of the 19th century made very sharp
distinctions between men's and women's clothing in color, shape, fabric, and decoration.
Gradually these distinctions have broken down, especially when women claimed masculine
items of clothing for themeselves. Trousers and tailored suits are two notable examples of
men's styles now worn regularly by both men and women.
At the same time, true unisex clothing (clothing with no distinction between genders) is very rare and is likely to remain so. Men's and women's tailored business suits, for example, can be regarded as simply two versions of the same basic garment, but they are generally very different in shape and in details, such as on which side the buttons are placed. Even outwardly ungendered items, such as jeans, are usually made in slightly different versions for men and women.
An important function of clothing is to serve as a
signifier of social identity, including gender, and that is likely to remain true.