The New Garb Age

The New Garb Age

Human society sustains itself by transforming nature into garbage.

-Mason Cooley

Garb: from Proto-Germanic garwiequipment; adornment

A more modern meaning of garb is simply fashion and apparel; it is the garments we wear as clothing. The new garb age is distinct from the previous the old garb age. For example, the garb of the bronze age was different than that of the industrial age. In a similar way, the garb of childhood is cast aside for the garb of adolescence which may then be cast off for the garb of adulthood. Our garb is also determined by setting; we have our workplace garb and our at home garb. We have formal garb for special occasions and casual garb for relaxation and leisure.

We also have garb in the mind as in psyche-logical garment or fashion. The mental garb of a person, i.e., beliefs, opinions, assumptions, conclusions, biases, prejudices, values, goals, dreams, fears, hopes, frustrations and joys are transpersonal in that this same kind of garb is worn by many, if not all. The new garb age is filled with a patchwork, a confusing mixture of conflicting cognitions, ideas, philosophies, beliefs, desires organized in such a way as to fit into an acceptable presentation. We put on a hodgepodge of psyche-logical clothing stitched together to appear as whole and respectable. The new garb age is, in that regard, deceitful, but in the same way as is a theatrical play or a movie house drama. As naked creatures, we are rather bland; we put on garb to appear appealing.

Some garb we wear, both physically and psyche-logically, is, in fact, appealing, according to the norms of the day; and, some is not so appealing, but may be functional. And, of course, some may be quite appealing and terribly dysfunctional. The garb we wear is not just garments of clothing but as well hairstyle, facial cosmetics, fragrances and general ‘body language.’ We rarely question the origins of the garb we wear. For example, what is the origin of high heels for women? What is the origin of the tie for a business suit?

The high heel did not originate to be worn by women as they are now, but rather as a man’s shoe. They were most popular with kings and other noble and wealthy men long before they were ever adorned on women’s feet. Heels used for this purpose date back to the Persian Empire in the 10th century. Men wore high heels around this time not only as a wealth and status symbol but also to feel more powerful as the heels allow them to tower over others. Women in the 1700’s used high heels as a way to make their feet appear smaller. The beauty standard of the time was that women were seen as more beautiful with smaller feet. Fashion trends involved long, floor-length skirts and dresses at the time which covered most of their feet while wearing heels allowing women to appear to have smaller feet than they would while wearing flat shoes. (

Most sartorialists agree that the necktie originated in the 17th century, during the 30 year war in France. King Louis XIII hired Croatian mercenaries who wore a piece of cloth around their neck as part of their uniform. While these early neckties did serve a function (tying the top of their jackets that is), they also had quite a decorative effect – a look that King Louis was quite fond of. In fact, he liked it so much that he made these ties a mandatory accessory for Royal gatherings, and – to honor the Croatian soldiers – he gave this clothing piece the name “La Cravate” – the name for necktie in French to this day. The early cravats of the 17th century have little resemblance to today’s necktie, yet it was a style that stayed popular throughout Europe for over 200 years. The tie as we know it today did not emerge until the 1920s but since then has undergone many (often subtle) changes (

In the modern garb age, women have more easily crossed over to wearing ties, and pants, suits even, especially women in business settings. However, men have not as easily flexed enough to wear skirts, or high heels, both of which are not unknown. For example the Scottish Kilt is basically a skirt worn by men. Pacific islanders, both men and women, typically wear sarongs. The fixation with gender based garb, i.e., fashion, is ever changing. A garb age may be about flamboyance, or may be about simplicity, elegance or practicalities. Jewelry too is a garb we wear with a long rich history ranging from rare mineral gemstones to cheap imitations. The same may be said for our psyche-logical garb, the rambunctious chatter within the mind that is as if a garment. Some wear the garb of anxieties while others the garb of calm, some of failure, others of success. Some wear jewels of truth and others dull knock-offs of belief. Much of modern psyche-logical garb worn is acquired in the sewers of social media where opinion rules supreme. The cultural norms set the standard of measurement as to what is or is not in vogue, and such standards are often quite fickle and extremely short lived. A pair of jeans purchased new with rips and tears is stylish, until it is not. And so it is with all garb, all fashion; it is popular, until it is not. We tend to treat our garments as garbage when they no longer appeal; such is the garb age we live in.

There is a garbage culture out there, where we pour garbage on people. Then the pollsters run around and take a poll and say, do you smell anything?

-Bob Woodward

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