Dressed to Impress: Looking the Part

Overview

Our dress is our identity. In dress, we live, move and have our social being. This book shows how the dressed body is central to the construction of a recognizable identity and provides accessible accounts of the particular dress ‘ways’ associated with a considerable variety of lifestyles. Churchgoers, ballerinas, Muslim schoolgirls, glamour models, ‘vampires’, monks and country gents all fashion a social self through dress. These cultures all have characteristic forms of displaying the dressed body for social ...

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Overview

Our dress is our identity. In dress, we live, move and have our social being. This book shows how the dressed body is central to the construction of a recognizable identity and provides accessible accounts of the particular dress ‘ways’ associated with a considerable variety of lifestyles. Churchgoers, ballerinas, Muslim schoolgirls, glamour models, ‘vampires’, monks and country gents all fashion a social self through dress. These cultures all have characteristic forms of displaying the dressed body for social visibility - whether in religion, sex, performance, or on the street. In contrast to much of the literature on dress, which often assumes a lack of agency on the part of the wearer, contributors to this book focus on the conscious manipulation of dress to reflect an identity that is designed to look ‘different’.

Why do people choose to mark themselves off socially from others? What are the costs and benefits? For every dress ‘identity’, there is a corresponding set of entitlements and expectations as to behaviour and belief. ‘Priestly’ bodies inhabit a different universe of response from strippers, just as ‘Gothic’ bodies experience the public gaze differently from ‘Methodist’ ones. Where one look commands respect in one setting, in another it can incite antipathy and rejection. Contributors tackle head-on this ‘paradox of dress’ - its potent power to unite and divide. Evidence of the dressed body’s social ambiguity as a medium of consensus, on the one hand, and conflict, on the other, provides a glimpse through dress into an elementary condition of social and cultural life that has all too rarely been part of historical and sociological discourse.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book should find its way not only into introductory courses in sociology or anthropology, but into the libraries of jourbanalists, critics, and theologians who wish to find out who is living what Durkheim called 'la vie serieuse'. To examine the sacred, it is always a good idea to begin with the vestments." —Jourbanal of Contemporary Religion
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781859734551
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 4/1/2001
  • Series: Dress, Body, Culture Series
  • Pages: 224
  • Lexile: 1450L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

Edited by William J. F. Keenan, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, The Nottingham Trent University.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
Notes on Contributors
List of Illustrations
Foreword
1 Introduction: Sartor Resartus Restored: Dress Studies in Carlylean Perspective 1
2 A Comparative Exploration of Dress and the Presentation of Self as Implicit Religion 51
3 An 'Informalizing Spurt' in Clothing Regimes: Court Ballet in the Civilizing Process 69
4 Land of Hip and Glory: Fashioning the 'Classic' National Body 85
5 Multiple Meanings of the Hijab in Contemporary France
6 Gestus Manifests Habitus: Dress and the Mormon 123
7 Vampires and Goths: Fandom, Gender and Cult Dress 141
8 The Fall and Rise of Erotic Lingerie 159
9 Dress Freedom: The Personal and the Political 179
Name Index 197
Subject Index 201
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