excellent reading of clothes as a means to navigate (or become lost) in the social strata


Clothes have long represented varying social strata. The distinctions between class, between gender, between race,  are reinforced by the clothes we wear. There is a reason, for example, that a King poses with his crown, or that we wear our nicest clothes for photos. We want to be represented in a certain way, one that hides our ‘flaws’, our weirdness, our social ugliness. Poor men wearing suits are suddenly placed out of their social context; they are able to pass through social strata.

Other types of clothing act as equalizers, such as uniforms. Soldiers wear uniforms to reinforce their unity. They attempt to nullify class, race, and gender distinctions. In Leslie Silko’s Ceremony, for example, a number of Native-Americans gain respect when they join the war; they are able to freely operate within a racist society. The uniform allows Tayo access into a mythos of patriotism, sacrifice, and honour, that…

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