"Fashion" is thus defined in the dictionary: "The prevailing mode in such things as are subject to change in form or style, as in ornament and etiquette, and especially in dress." It is the name given to the prevailing style of living among the upper classes and the rich. Among the members of the "smart set "of any country, certain styles of houses, furniture, foods and drinks, times of meals, amusements, polite customs, and especially dress, are "fashionable".
No one in society would dare take his meals at unfashionable hours, or furnish his rooms with unfashionable furniture, or, above all, wear clothes that were out of fashion. To do so would be considered odd and eccentric, or, as people of that class would say, "Quite impossible".
Fashions in all things are constantly changing. Certain games and amusements, styles of furniture, rules of etiquette, foods and drinks, come into fashion and go out of fashion. What was fashionable in the days of our fathers is no longer fashionable to-day. This is especially true of fashions of dress which always means the latest fashion.
One year ladies' dresses will be short and their hats small; the next they may be long and the hats large. Now the prevailing color will be blue; in a few months, it may be pink; and sometime after, everyone will be wearing black. A fashionable lady will call a beautiful and costly dress she has worn only once, "that old thing", and give it away to her maid, because it has gone out of fashion. As it is impossible for any but wealthy people to bear the expense of discarding perfectly good clothes, and of buying new and up-to-date dresses, only well-to-do people can always be in the fashion.
How can we account for these constant and rapid changes in fashion? They are due, partly to love of novelty, and partly to what is called the "herd instinct". Animals that live in herds or flocks (such as cattle, sheep and deer) are in the habit of moving together, and all doing the same thing at the same time. Now men are animals that live in "herds" or societies; and, as a rule, a man or woman feels uncomfortable, if he or she is not doing or wearing just what their equals in society are wearing or doing.