Top fashion designers in American history: Ideas for your fashion design paper

Throughout the years, the frequent changes of the fashion industry are what have made it so successful. (Courtesy of Stephoccitan)

Throughout the years, the frequent changes of the fashion industry are what have made it so successful. (Courtesy of Stephoccitan)

When you think about American history, the topics of fashion design and merchandising may not be top of your mind. Yet, top fashion designers have played an important part in building our unique American culture. If your assignment is to write a research paper on fashion design, then be sure to take the time to explore all the possible approaches that such a paper could take. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Ideas for your research paper

Clothing began as a necessity — a protection against a harsh environment and the elements. But humans also have a need for self-expression and for decoration. Fashion and design blend both of these basic human needs into beautiful expressions that communicate our tastes and our status.

As you begin your exploration into the world of fashion design be sure to visit Questia, it is the Internet’s largest library of full-text books and articles. But it’s more than a library. Questia also provides its members with research tutorials that guide users step-by-step through the research and writing process.

Not sure how to focus your paper? Dive into the tutorial on planning a paper. Confused about how to do research? You’ll love the tutorials on conducting research and using the library. During your research and writing activities, you’ll love the built-in tools for highlighting, bookmarking, citing and saving your sources.

Fashion design topics

The Questia library of fashion and design topics is housed in the category of art and architecture. If you choose to explore the topic of fashion history, you’ll be led to several books and articles including the book, Pantaloons and Power: Nineteenth-Century Dress Reform in the United States by Gayle V. Fischer.

In addition to protection and decoration, you’ll find that throughout history, clothing has also communicated social status and one’s place in society. For this reason, it may not be surprising to find that changes in women’s fashions played an important part in the change of women’s status in society.

According to Fischer, “And at it score, dress reformers’ challenge to conventional dress highlighted the role of clothing in the negotiation of power relations between the sexes. For women to take control of their appearance, to distance themselves from a primarily ornamental identity, primarily dependent on men and devoted to pleasing men, was intrinsically transgressive.”

Fashion blogs

Other good sources for your fashion design research paper include the many blogs that focus on fashion-related issues. One such blog is The New York Times Style Magazine, which hosts blogs on women’s fashion, men’s fashion and design. If you want to keep up on the latest in fashion news, this is the place to be.

In an October 31, 2013 post titled, “Market Report: Timeless, Feathery Finds,” Edward Barsamian described the resurgence of plumes in the fashion scene and provided a slide show with photos.

“The plume briefly disappeared from the fashion scene after last year’s Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge-inspired fascinator craze died down. But now it’s back, this time on clothes and accessories and in varying shades of blue, from deep sapphire to a bluish gray,” Barsamian said.

Other fashion blogs of note include:

  • The Man Repeller
  • Bryan Grey Yambao’s blog BryanBoy
  • Emily Schuman’s Cupcakes and Cashmere

Also be sure to check out the websites for your favorite fashion magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue.

Professional organizations

It’s a good idea to join any professional organization for your chosen field of study. Membership dues are usually much more affordable for students, and at local meetings you’ll make valuable connections with people who work in the fashion industry. Nothing spices up a research paper like a quote or personal interview with an expert.

Professional organizations related to fashion include:

  • The American Sewing Guild (ASG)
  • The Costume Society of America (CSA)
  • The Council of International Fashion Designers (CIFD)
  • The Association of Stylists and Coordinators (ASC)

You might also want to check out the website for the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) where you’ll find information about careers in fashion and other resources. You might not realize it but the world of fashion often dovetails with the world of politics. If you’re interested in learning more, then be sure to explore the AAFA blogs for news about political trends and emerging issues in the U.S. apparel and footwear industries.

Ready to start your fashion and design research paper? Start your readings in fashion and design on Questia.

What is your favorite topic idea for a research paper on fashion and design? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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