There are two particularly interesting kinds of relationships between signs: syntagmas and paradigms.

A syntagma is a syntactic string of words that forms a part of some larger syntactic group.

Syntax is a set of rules on how to combine signs one next to the other.

A subject is connected to a verb, an adverb and an instrumental case to form a sentence: Marco is wearing an elegant suit.

The existing and present continuous signs Marco, is wearing, elegant, suit interrelate.

A paradigm, a set of elements of a sentence connected by a virtual relationship of substitutability in the same context, creates a relationship between a sign that is present and one that could have been in its place.

It therefore involves a choice in a system where an element is chosen rather than another which could have virtually been in its place.

So I can say either “Marco is wearing an elegant suit” or “Marco is wearing Armani”.

The paradigmatic relationship between the elegant and suit signs is the Armani sign.

As far as clothing is concerned, the syntagma is the jacket, whereas the paradigm is the format, the standard to conform to, in other words, a suit with tie, shirt and trousers worn together with a jacket.

In a dress paradigm, one would expect a dark suit with elegant shoes, not clogs. The infringer of the paradigm, the dress rules of the society he lives in, would be defined as somewhat eccentric.

In the fashion world however, these rules are sometimes deliberately bent to stir emotion and interest in the public.

So it may occur that dress elements displaying combinations that would be shocking for normal, everyday wear, turn into a paradigm in the representation of fashion.

McCaul Lombardi and Robert De Niro are elegantly dressed in the Ermenegildo Zegna garments. The visual text of the Zegna campaign is a very good syntagma.
A man dresses elegantly in a refined context: the syntax of Cesare Attolini Autumn - Winter 17-18.
During Fashion Week 2016 in New York, a new trend has emerged: furry nails.
A shoe with a tail? The new fashion paradigm has served. (Laurence e Chico 2018).


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