Through the Wardrobe: Women's Relationships with Their Clothes (Dress, Body, Culture)
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Relating to clothes is a fundamental experience in the lives of most Western women. Even when choice is fraught with ambivalence, clothing matters. From considerations about dressing for success, to worries about weight, through to investing particular articles of clothing with meaning bordering on the sacred, what we wear speaks volumes about personal identity - what is revealed, what is concealed, what is created.
This book fills a gap in the existing literature on the ambivalence of fashion and dress by drawing on a wide range of women's experiences with their wardrobes and providing empirical data noticeably absent from other studies of women and dress. Navigating what is clearly a contested realm in feminist scholarship, contributors provide rich case studies of the reality of women's relationships with clothing. While on the surface concerns about fashion or dress may appear to reflect gendered patterns, in fact clothing may be used to challenge ascribed meanings about femininity.
to be observed being worn with skater clothes, hippie clothes and with Goth clothing. There is a relationship between clothes and musical taste. The ‘trendies’ follow what is thought of as pop music. The first group tend to enjoy dance, house and general club music, while the second prefer the chart music, particularly the so-called ‘pop’ music of Boyzone, the Spice Girls and so on. The music styles of the alternatives ranges from heavy metal to glam rock, hippie music to the more
(Joanna) Partly, this was due to the influence of the printed media that shaped women’s preferences: They are quite specific in what they want quite a lot of the time, usually if they’ve seen somebody on television or in a magazine. (Anne) Some bring in a picture from Vogue and say ‘I want to look like that.’ (Elizabeth) Anne recalled an occasion (not by any means unique) when a particular cardigan was featured in a magazine. The day after the magazine was published she had fifteen telephone
(Elizabeth) mostly they want to wear the latest from Gucci so all their friends and you know, people in the know will recognise them [the Gucci clothes]. (Jane) They want Gucci, Prada or Dolce and Gabbana. They want the labels . . . if it’s Gucci they have to have it. (Elizabeth) 83 Kate Gillen It’s ‘Oh, she’s got Mugler, well I must have Louise Kennedy’. (Mareka) The more expensive the label, the more likely they are to buy . . . the most expensive item is always the most sellable item.
work is still what I consider professional . . . You dress for your audience. If I am going to meet with a group of deans and vice chancellors [or] to provide a power image, then I might wear a very formal outfit to a less formal affair – if I want to provide an image of myself as businesslike and powerful, or a softer outfit to provide an image of ‘little ’ole me’; I am not into all this power politics. The latter woman also comments on how high-level administrators ‘recognize quality. They
professionals focus attention upon their ability to simulate breasts and speak of their ability to reconstruct women: ‘We repair people’s lives as much as their looks’ (Plastic Surgeon quoted in SSRU 1993, p.107). Doctors increasingly advocate breast reconstruction, breast nurses focus upon the best-shaped prosthesis and commercial enterprises sell the whole range of possibilities for the resurrection of the feminine body and 177 Jean Spence thus apparently of the woman herself. The