Fashion Talks: Undressing the Power of Style

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Essays on the politics of everyday style.

Fashion Talks is a vibrant look at the politics of everyday style. Shira Tarrant and Marjorie Jolles bring together essays that cover topics such as lifestyle Lolitas, Hollywood baby bumps, haute couture hijab, gender fluidity, steampunk, and stripper shoes, and engage readers with accessible and thoughtful analyses of real-world issues. This collection explores whether style can shift the limiting boundaries of race, class, gender, and sexuality, while avoiding the traps with which it attempts to rein us in. Fashion Talks will appeal to cultural critics, industry insiders, mainstream readers, and academic experts who are curious about the role fashion plays in the struggles over identity, power, and the status quo.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“…an engaging look at dress and its complexity in communication by utilizing contemporary examples and providing historical as well as current perspectives.” — Journal of Family & Consumer Sciences

Fashion Talks brings together a diverse group of feminist thinkers, and raises questions that may challenge its readers to think of style and its offshoots in new ways.” — Sadie Magazine

“…Fashion Talks simultaneously examines the joy and subversive potential fashion holds … This discomfort, this shaky ground where fashion and feminism converge—Tarrant, Jolles and their contributors open this space where we can channel our fashion choices—whether that be sneakers or heels, Prada or DIY, red lips or chapstick—for political progress.” — Bitch Magazine

“The contributors to this collection take fashion seriously, neither dismissing it as inconsequential nor demonizing it as inherently anti-feminist … Quite simply, this book is an excellent and accessible introduction to the intersection between Third Wave feminism and fashion theory … Highly recommended.” — CHOICE

“Think of this book as your contemporary style guide. With wit and verve, these fine thinkers redress fashion as a force both frivolous and profound, offering the kind of intelligent, entertaining analysis that transcends trendiness. Topics vary widely—think: baby bumps, little-girl looks, steampunk, colonial chic, feminism, fur, emirati couture. The result is an elegant mix-and-match that brings thoughtful consideration to everyday issues (like getting dressed!), while deepening understanding of our sartorial worlds.” — Deborah Siegel, author of Sisterhood, Interrupted: From Radical Women to Grrls Gone Wild

“From indie brides to Islamic abayas to emo-hipster style, Fashion Talks speaks volumes about the sophistication of contemporary feminist scholarship. Its essays bring together a wide range of different, occasionally divergent perspectives on how style has been applied, critiqued, analyzed, and of course donned for political ends, in ways that encourage readers to truly reconsider the popular slogan ‘This is what a feminist looks like.’ This book is an invaluable source of new scholarship on the subject that will have tremendous appeal to those interested in gender studies, popular culture, and their sartorial expression.” — Maria Elena Buszek, author of Pin-Up Grrrls: Feminism, Sexuality, Popular Culture

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781438443201
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2012
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 8.95 (w) x 7.41 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Shira Tarrant is Associate Professor in the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Department at California State University, Long Beach. She is the author of Men and Feminism and When Sex Became Gender and the editor of Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex, and Power.

Marjorie Jolles is Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Roosevelt University.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations xi

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction: Feminism Confronts Fashion Marjorie Jolles Shira Tarrant 1

I Dressing the Body: The Politics of Gender and Sexuality

Chapter 1 Fashioning a Feminist Style, Or, How I Learned to Dress from Reading Feminist Theory Astrid Henry 13

Chapter 2 Dressing Left: Conforming, Transforming, and Shifting Masculine Style Shira Tarrant 33

Chapter 3 The Baby Bump Is the New Birkin Renée Ann Cramer 53

Chapter 4 Fashion as Adaptation: The Case of American Idol Leslie Heywood Justin R. Garcia 67

Chapter 5 My Mannequin, Myself: Embodiment in Fashion's Mirror Denise Witzig 83

Chapter 6 Life's Too Short to Wear Comfortable Shoes: Femme-ininity and Sex Work Jayne Swift 99

Chapter 7 Japanese Lolita: Challenging Sexualized Style and the Little-Girl Look Kathryn A. Hardy Bernal 117

II Fashion Choices: The Ethics of Consumption, Production, and Style

Chapter 8 Glam Abaya: Contemporary Emirati Couture Jan C. Kreidler 135

Chapter 9 Ado(red), Abhor(red), Disappea(red): Fashioning Race, Poverty, and Morality under Product (Red)™ Evangeline M. Heiliger 149

Chapter 10 The Lady Is a Vamp: Cruella de Vil and the Cultural Politics of Fur Catherine Spooner 165

Chapter 11 Something Borrowed, Something Blue: What's an Indie Bride to Do? Elline Lipkin 179

Chapter 12 Steampunk: Stylish Subversion and Colonial Chic Diana M. Pho Jaymee Goh 191

Chapter 13 DIY Fashion and Going Bust: Wearing Feminist Politics in the Twenty-First Century Jo Reger 209

Chapter 14 Stylish Contradiction: Mix-and-Match as the Fashion of Feminist Ambivalence Marjorie Jolles 227

About the Authors 245

Index 251

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