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Relationship between Clothing and Social Identity

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Fashion
Wordcount: 2251 words Published: 18th May 2020

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 Fashion in history is a statement into current events and what they say about the times. The ability to express one’s self is a key concept to this topic. Labels were used to define looks that individuals wanted to achieve. Although, with using different terms to identify a statement look could be shown negatively. Silhouettes of different blouses, dresses, and suits were a visual representation that the viewers grasped. Fashion inspired others to believe what the concept is portraying.

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 Clothing can be used to express, create an identity, and make a personal statement about what an individual stand for. It is important to all because it is always relevant and ever changing. Personally I am interest in fashion for the ability to express myself. The topic of this paper is how fashion has dictated the United States and has a negative/positive connotation on certain events. Overall, what I plan to accomplish with this research is to inform the audience about U.S fashion from the 1900’s to early 2000’s. This industry is a motion that has a revolutionary response from personal motives to public relations. How much of an impact can clothing have on the social identity? Fashion has dictated many things however it has been approached as positive and negative in different groups.

 An individual’s character is translated through clothing choice and style. Fashion is related to social stratification by being a form of communication. Linking to society is a commonality that is related to the articles “Fashioning the 1950s ‘Vassar Girl’: Vassar Student Identity and Campus Dress, 1947-60” by Rebecca Tuite and “Striking Ensembles: The Importance of Clothing on the Picket Line” by Deirdre Clemente. Both articles discuss the shared idea of dressing to represent the social identity. Specific clothing styles creates impressions that utterly describe status. Examples such as wearing a business attire in a farming environment could create controversy.

 Women’s fashion as a form of expression is a common pattern associated with this topic. Tuite discusses that the “Vassar Girl” was a superior figure that most college girls aspired to be. Certain styles were chosen to combine both high status and education. Although, the female working class portrayed a different image. Clemente explains the same concept of expression from the 1909 Shirtwaist Strike. While being similar it had a different message to portray. Women were dressing to match higher quality fashion to prove their knowledge on current American trends. The relation between these two topics creates an eye-opening experience on the importance of status and education.

 With knowing that clothing has been used to define status, culture, and expression it is also a privilege. Unlike the two articles mentioned beforehand  Lauren Dalton’s “Robertson’s Model: A Framework for Exploration of World War II Conservation Consumption Policy Influence on Fashion in the US” explains the value of style. During WWII resources for making clothes were limited. This allowed for creative innovation that the Tuite’s “Vassar Girl” lacked, but the working women related. The relationship of this trend created revolutionary clothing that marked history. Fashion is a topic that has common patterns that consist mainly of transformation and creativity.

 Clothing styles will forever be changing with the purpose to create expression. Ann Presley’s  article “Fifty Years of Change: Societal Attitudes and Women’s Fashions, 1900-1950” connects the subject that relates all the articles described thus far. Women use fashion to explore character and growth. Whether it be for the same cause is another story. Throughout history the connection between individuals and clothing has been an ongoing phenomenon. Pham Minh-Ha’s “The Right to Fashion in the Age of Terrorism” article describes the effect of terrorism on fashion after the 9/11 attack. After September 11, 2001 fashion was irrelevant unlike Presley’s article. The need to express oneself was diminished for a short period after the unfortunate event. Clothing that had a similarity to those of terrorist’s had increased the ongoing paranoia. Emotional recovery for the U.S was implied by the fashion industry to save the right of individualism.

  All the articles have in common the relationship of women’s clothing and fashion expression. Although, differently each source had different reasoning’s to how it was used. The texts chosen for this paper were all peer-reviewed. This allowed for more accurate evidence to be used to support the thesis on fashion. Popular sources such as magazines, newspapers, and so on differ significantly by the reliability. The academic journal articles raise no questions on if they are liable enough. Non peer-reviewed sources contain information that has not been reviewed. This raises awareness on if they are useful enough in terms of support in research. In the conversation of fashion throughout history my planned paper fits into the discussion by its importance. Clothing has become revolutionary to self-identify in forms of expression.

 Minor claims that will be used to support the thesis of the paper are the similarity between the articles. For example, all the sources discuss the involvement of women’s clothing. With involving the same gender the movement towards feminism was common. Also, another sub-claim that will be used is the differences between the articles as well. Such as that Tuite’s discussion on the “Vassar Girl” was different from Clemente’s article on working women. The  similarity and differences between sources shine’s light on the positive and negative use of fashion. From using clothing to create the ideal college student to using it to bring back self-identity. These examples of sub-claims/minor claims will be used to support the thesis of my paper.

 In order to write my paper successfully there are a series of steps I need to take. More information will be required to understand the topic of fashion thoroughly. This will be accomplished by reading each source carefully. By doing so this will increase the amount of research required. Taking out key examples in each article will help support the main thesis. Also, to be successful more minor claims will be needed for the overall layout of my paper. To summarize the needs to write a strong paper I will be required to do more exploration on fashion.

Annotated Bibliography

Clemente, Deirdre. “Striking Ensembles: The Importance of clothing on the Picket Line.” Labor

Studies Journal, vol. 30, no. 4, Winter 2006, pp. 11-15. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1353/lab.2005.0076

Deirdre Clemente’s article discusses the clothing worn during two women’s strikes in the early 1930s. The strikes in the Southern textile mills and the 1909 Shirtwaist Strike that took place in New York City. Both had commonalities with using fashion to evolve as working women. Clothing was used to imprint themselves into society. The article discusses the use of fashion for women to communicate their recognition and power.

Clemente’s supplied important information on the women’s strikes during the early 19th century. The article also positively defined these female workers as spontaneous. A downfall to her academic journal was little information was known about the clothing wore during these strikes. This information will be useful in the beginning of the paper by describing the early stages of fashion evolution.

Dalton, Lauren, et al. “Robertson’s Model: A Framework for Exploration of World War II

Conservation Consumption Policy Influence on Fashion in the US.” International Journal of Consumer Studies, vol. 36, no. 6, Nov. 2012, pp. 611-621. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1111/j.1470-6431.2011.01036.x.

Lauren Dalton’s article explains the lack of resources and the importance of conservation during World War II. In the United States during the 1940’s fashion innovations were made popular for lady’s apparel. Conservation poster campaigns were popular to attract the attention of American’s. Clothing trends were based around the theme to recycle in order to support the war efforts. Women’s fashion during the war became an identity to provoke individuals to reuse limited materials.

 A strength for Dalton’s article is the in-depth detail she provides about fashion. Also, it provided a significant amount of details for how the war impacted clothing trends. A negative trait for this academic journal is that it provides a numerous amount of information about the war. This implies that more in-depth reading is required to find details on clothing. This information will be used to compare to the Presley’s article “Fifty Years of Change: Societal Attitudes and Women’s Fashions, 1900-1950”.

Minh-Ha T. Pham. “The Right to Fashion in the Age of Terrorism.” Signs, vol. 36, no. 2, 2011,

p. 385. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1086/655979

Pham Minh-Ha’s academic journal explains the effect of fashion after the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers. After the unfortunate event took place clothing became irrelevant. Terrorism paranoia was high in effect placing a microscopic view on those who looked like terrorists. Fashion became a civil liberty for American citizens to freely express themselves. The clothing industry promoted individualism and sparked emotional recovery.

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 Minh-Ha’s article strengths were the discussion on the discrimination of terrorist’s and its relation to fashion. Also, it described the value that the industry had on the short-term economic issues. A negative key factor would be that it used a remarkably long list of references in her article. This impacted the academic journal by that there were many quotes used as evidence. The facts provided can be used as an example of a more recent event that was related to fashion in U.S history.

Presley, Ann Beth. “Fifty Years of Change: Societal Attitudes and Women’s Fashions, 1900-

1950.” Historian, vol. 60, Winter 1198, pp. 307-324. EBSCOhost,  doi:10.1111/j.1540-


Ann Presley’s explains the rapid changes of fashion from the 1900’s to the 1950’s throughout her article. Women’s roles were evolving during this era and fashion was soon to follow. She discusses that during this time fashion was related to social attitudes. Lady’s apparel reflected their character and evolved as they did. Both World War’s changed women’s roles and fashion together as one.

 Presley’s article supplied numerous examples of key roles that fashion played in women’s history. This allows for connections to be made on clothing revolution. Also, the academic journal display’s images of trends that women war during each time period. Although, a negative key factor is there are numerous examples given for lady’s trends. This a con by that there is a great deal of information to take in. The details provided will be used towards the introduction portion of the paper to introduce fashion in the early 1900’s.

Tuite, Rebecca C. “Fashioning the 1950’s ‘Vassar Girl’: Vassar Student Identity and Campus

Dress, 1947-60.” Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture, vol. 17, no. 3,

June 2013, pp. 299-320. EBSCOhost, doi:10.2752/175174113X13597248661747.

Rebecca Tuite’s article reviews the “Vassar Girl” in relations to education and high fashion. American culture was largely impacted by this from 1947 to 1960. She discusses the impacts on genuine Vassar students on the college campus. Undergraduates saw this imagine as problematic and an issue upon their society. This resulted in the exploration of individualism and self-identity in the mid-century.  The article provides examples of how fashion was used to construct personal identities.

Tuite provided effective evidence that displayed the impact that fashion had on students. Also, a significant amount of references was used in her article to support her claims. A downside to the article was that it notably long with a remarkably amount of information to absorb. The information provided by Tuite can be applied to the mid-19th century section and throughout the whole of the paper, as it supplies a key example of how fashion was negatively seen.


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