Dressed to Impress: Looking the Part

Front Cover
William J. F. Keenan
Bloomsbury Academic, Mar 1, 2001 - Design - 224 pages

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.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - sumirechan - LibraryThing

Read December 2007. A collection of essays on the significance of dress in various times and places. I borrowed it for Milly Williamson's "Vampires and Goths: Fandom, Gender and ... more Cult Dress ... Read full review


Jc A Comparative Exploration of Dress and the
Fashioning the Classic
Multiple Meanings of the Hijab in Contemporary

5 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

academic aestheticization Agnostics Ancien Regime androcentric Arcades Project argued ballerina Ballet d'action behaviour Book of Mormon Bourdieu bourgeoisie brassieres British Burberry Carlyle's Carlylean century Chador chapter Chartism Church clothing colour consumerism consumerist contemporary context corset court ballet cultural Cultural Studies Cynthia Enloe dance dancers Danielle Mitterrand Doctrine and Covenants dress codes dress freedom dress studies dressways Dreyfus affair Ecclefechan Eicher Eileen Barker erotic eroticism essentialist expression fashion Featherstone female body femininity Feminism feminist foulard France French French Revolution Fundamentalists garments gender Gunpowder Plot headscarf Helen Allingham hermeneutical hijab However human ibid identity politics ideology implicit religion Independent on Sunday individual industry intellectual Islam Islamist Islamophobia John Linnell Joseph Smith La Sylphide laicite late modern Latter-day Saints lingerie Lionel Jospin London look male male gaze Marie Camargo Marxists Mary Douglas misogyny modern Modernists Mormon Mormon missionary Muslim national identity National Portrait Gallery Oxford Paris Opera participant observation Pierre Bourdieu plural marriage political postmodern presentation of self Qur'an racism Radical Orthodoxy ready-to-wear religious ritual role romantic ballet Routledge Sartor Resartus semiotics sense sexual social society sociological imagination Sociology Sociology of Religion style suspender belts suspender-belt symbolic temple temple garment temple robes Theory Thomas Carlyle tradition Tseelon underclothes undergarment underwear Unification Church University Press Vampire Chronicles Victoria's Secret Victorian washing and anointing wear Wilson women vampire fans York

About the author (2001)

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

Bibliographic information