For centuries, clothing and fashion has been one of the most defining aspects of culture, society and time. While things like race, religion and socioeconomic status continue to impact clothing choices, women today are a lot freer to have their style be a reflection of personality and identity. With the television and Internet giving access to global trends and fashions, women in the 21st century are not restricted to the clothing available to them in their immediate communities.
Work plays a big part in the clothing choices of the 21st century woman. Depending on the nature of her work, her typical attire can be anything from a swimming costume to a business suit. Most office work environments demand professional clothing, usually consisting of a skirt or dress trousers combined with a top, such a dress shirt or polo. Informal dresses of appropriate length are also acceptable. Informal or casual work environments often allow female employees to wear jeans and shorts to work.
Age also serves as an influencing factor in women's clothing choices. While younger women often wear shorter, more revealing clothing, garments for older women are frequently more conservative in their style and cut. In most places, no hard rules exist as to age-appropriate attire, and many older women buy their clothing from the same stores as their younger counterparts.
Religion can often influence a woman's clothing choices. Although many religious groups have become more lax in their approach to fashion, traditions and beliefs are still an important factor. Many groups among Christians, Jews and Muslims (as well as other religious groups) prescribe a modest wardrobe that does not permit women to wear tight or revealing clothing. The more traditional of these will sometimes require women to wear skirts, headscarves or other religiously significant clothing items.
As people become more tolerant and aware of various cultures and ethnic groups, some women choose to represent their backgrounds through their clothing. For example, women from India might sometimes wear highly ornate saris to pay tribute to their culture, or women from Africa may wear beautifully embroidered kaftan dresses representative of their heritage.
The clothing worn by a 21st century woman on her time off may greatly differ from the clothing she wears to work. For the most part, women's clothing is mass-produced with relatively simple designs and cuts. Most women's clothing is made to be functional, comfortable and flattering to the body. Made in various sizes, the same styles can be worn by women of different shapes. Popular staples in most women's wardrobes are jeans, which can be worn year-round and transition well from work to play.