In the early days, it was the man who worked and the women who became the symbol of family status. Living in the home, she was a "trophy wife." The less work she looked capable of doing, the better off her and her husband were. Of course, stories like "The Necklace" commented on this idea of status representation through fashion. Mathilda believed that she could find that social status and glory through dress, and she did for a night; but the cruelty of fashion is its ever changing standard. Fashion changes so frequently that, to identify those on top, to be well off was to stay on top of the curve. As Benjamin said "Fashion prescribed the ritual by which the fetish commodity wished to be worshiped."
Fashion dictated the age. By analyzing the fashion, one could potentially determine the age; although this only works to a point. Fashion began changing very rapidly, new styles almost weekly. Fashion also dictated social status, as anyone who could earn enough could stay on top.
Much of the fashion industry targeted women. As they were always in the homes and had time, they were the customer to whom the industry sold to. Women were expected to purchase commodities and to desire the frivolous and pretty new products. Thus, women were bound to fashion, desiring to purchase it as well as being defined by it.