Gender, Social, and Status
I regularly tell my clients that people generally buy clothing in 3 categories: Gender, Social and Status symbols.
The gender symbol seems easy enough comparing a suit to a dress but fashion can blur lines at the most basic levels. When you account for the LGBT community, a huge force in the fashion industry by the way, any lasting notion of this being a simple delineation is quickly washed away.
I like to use an Armani as an analogy for the difference between Social and Status symbols. For a client running a Fortune 500, Armani is the worst of the best. It is the bare minimum of socially acceptable behavior among their colleagues while, for a recently college graduate, Armani is a rung in the corporate ladder. This is most prevalent in the lower socioeconomic spectrum where "Jordans" or Gucci can be a status symbols until the community has been saturated elevating shoes or belts to social necessities.
Why does this matter?
I want to break you of any idea that clothes have intrinsic value. Only people have intrinsic value and clothes can either enhance or diminish that understanding. Our job as image consultants is to help you find that value and then find a way to own it in something as simple as a suit or a dress.