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In what sense is dress involved in the construction of personal identity It can be said that in very large part our identities - our sense of who and what we are take shape in terms of how we balance and attempt to resolve the ambivalences to which our natures our times and our culture make us heir Strauss 1959 taken from Davis 199224 Dress and fashion is an underestimated social force It functions effectively not only as an economic colossus but also to engineer social practices The formation of identities passes by way of continuous mirroring effects afforded by others self-images are social constructions in which dress plays an important performative role In a world of looking and being looked at clothing constantly undergoes coding and decoding in intricate processes of social interaction and judgement Fashion has become increasingly connected with identity formation and maintenance among all classes races and groups The desire for fashionable attire was not just a means of gaining the admiration and recognition of the otherclothing was the essence of identity Finkelstein 1991 p1 Identity relies on boundaries to individuate the self Dress challenges boundaries it frames the body and serves both to distinguish and connect self and other Clothing is both a boundary and not a boundary that it is ambiguous and produces a complex relation between self and not self In examining the role of dress in social structures clothing can be seen as both restricting and liberating individual and collective identity Dress offers individuals the opportunity to play with their identities it gives people the freedom to play with their shape to don various styles and looks and through this construct ones image to the world In the past individuals were seen to have an identity apart from the goods they possessed in the present era ones identity is defined in terms of the image that one creates through
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