Body Dressing

Body Dressing

Body Dressing

Body Dressing

Synopsis

For some time now the body has been a central topic across a range of social science disciplines. Similarly, there has been a growing interest in the cultural meaning of clothing. But curiously, even though people are nearly always clothed, the relationship between dress and the body has been relatively unexplored until now.Dress is a crucial aspect of embodiment, shaping the self physically and psychologically. From dressing up to dressing down, this book exposes the complex ways that fashions and costumes render the body presentable in a vast range of social situations. It investigates the varied ways in which western and non-western clothes operate to give the body meaning and situate it within culture. The authors consider different approaches to the relationship between fashion, dress and the body, and present new theoretical models for their future study. They demonstrate the importance of the concept of embodiment to dress and fashion studies.Exploring gender, photography, cultural history and modernity, this book deals with a vast range of questions inherent in dressing up the body. From fashion photography in the 1960s to contemporary queer fashion and the history of the masquerade, this is a fascinating and far-reaching collection. Its breadth and depth make it essential reading for anyone interested in style, costume, the body, gender or history.

Excerpt

In the last fifteen years the study of fashion and dress has been transformed. Interdisciplinarity has gained ground across the humanities and social sciences and scholars have approached fashion and dress from a number of perspectives that have challenged the marginal place of fashion within traditional academic scholarship. Within philosophy and sociology, for example, fashion has long been largely neglected or been considered as a frivolous endeavour not worthy of serious analysis.

In the same period there has been an explosion of interest in the body within a number of disciplines and it would seem that this should have provided the incentive to analyze fashion and dress more closely. However, academic interest in the body has not generally focused attention on fashion and dress. the need to address fashion from the point of view of its relationship to the body is therefore one of the aims of this book as is, we hope, demonstrating the value of such an engagement. Body Dressing aims also to capture some of the vitality of current research in the area. Further, it illustrates how the study of fashion and dress has become detached from its location within costume history and anthropology respectively, to flourish within social history, philosophy, sociology, social psychology and cultural studies. the links between and across these discipline boundaries then become clear.

In Britain, costume history originally emerged as a subset of art history, evolving from the dating of paintings; it was garment based and strongly empirical. Work on nineteenth- and twentieth- century fashion consisted largely of descriptive works on haute couture, although efforts were made by some historians to include a social and critical dimension. Serious disciplines, such as philosophy and sociology, neglected fashion and dress, unless to consider them from a moralistic point of view. One of the most influential, Thorstein Veblen, whose Theory of the Leisure Class was published in 1899, was still being quoted as an authority on dress in the 1960s and 1970s – and by writers on fashion, although he utterly rejected fashionable dress as not . . .

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