Oscar Wilde once wrote, 'Fashion is a form of ugliness so absolutely unbearable that we have to alter it every six months.' And yet it serves to make us beautiful, or at least make us feel beautiful. In Dress Code Mari Grinde Arntzen asks how and why this is - how we can be enthralled by the fashion world, and at the same time appalled by the politics and practices of the garment industry? This book questions why we h ave such a love-hate relation ship with fashion. Guiding us through the major figures and brands of today's fashion system, Dress Code shows how they shape us and in turn why we love to be shaped by them. The book focuses on everyday, affordable 'fast fashion' brands as well as the luxury market, to show how both ends of the fashion industry exert a powerful force over our lives. It also discusses trend forecasters, the media and the pressures on consumers, arguing that the world of fashion is both a dictatorship and a democracy, directing our shopping habits as well as our appearance.This study explores what happens when we get dressed: why fashion can make us feel powerful, beautiful and original, yet also paradoxically works oppressively, forcing consumers to conform. This book peels off the layers of the world's fifth largest industry, garment by garment, to reveal fashion as a phemen, a business and an art. Grinde Arntzen is disturbed by its influence yet sympathetic to our desire - however ambivalent - to be stylish, smart or trendy. Dress Code is both a succinct and thought-provoking look at how the culture of dress dominates everyday life, and a lively and honest account of the pleasures and problems of fashion.
Mari Grinde Arntzen is a journalist who writes for Aftenposten and Dagens Naeringsliv and teaches at the School of Fashion Industry in Oslo.