semiotics of dress


  • Clothing symbols are a reflection of what a specific society believes is valuable at a given time.

  • [4]: 7  This means that when an individual’s body and clothes fuse together to form one, the individual’s sense of importance increases.

  • The way one dresses is informed by the biological and social needs of the individual.

  • Perhaps a better understanding of this could be derived from the church fathers, who said that seductive attire is a mixture of exposure and coverage of the body.

  • [4]: 11  Therefore, an intimate comprehension of an individual’s history as well as time investment is required to understand and comprehend an individual through clothing

  • While clothing is defined as “any covering of the human body”,[2] fashion is defined as the style of dress accepted by members of a society as being appropriate for specific
    times and occasions.

  • Central to the semiotics of dress is the psychology of self-perception and self-presentation, both as individuals who see themselves, as well as how individuals are seen within
    a greater group, society, culture or subculture.

  • Cultural values in dress can easily increase an individual’s self-significance by portraying those good, desirable values in accordance with one’s society.

  • [8]: 148  This idea may include visual images or verbal descriptions that people may use to describe which “look” suits them best and which “look” doesn’t.

  • However; due to their clothing, they portray an image or an idea to the viewer of being sexy or attractive, therefore putting her physical strength as a secondary attribute.

  • All in efforts to show others that they possess a privileged place in a social class, where they could not be seen working in a field.

  • Clothing symbols do not offer implications about a person’s rights, duties or obligations, and they should not be used to judge or predict one’s behavior.

  • [4]: 7  Clothing that shows or portrays some kind of authority in society would fall in the first category.

  • Symbols in clothing don’t represent one’s level in a social institution.

  • [2] People develop meaning of signs and signals based on an individual and personal ideology.

  • In other words, if one’s body and clothes don’t come together as a whole, then one may feel embarrassed, and therefore belittle its sense of importance.

  • People who wear these kinds of clothing are expected by society to behave in certain ways.

  • [8]: 120  Psychology in dress Psychologist J. C. Flugel concluded that styles of dress affect one’s appearance, yet triggering feelings that enable role performance.

  • “Personal dress,” refers to the “I” component we bring in when dressing the public self.


Works Cited

[‘Rubinstein, Ruth (2000). Society’s Child: Identity, Clothing, and Style. the University of Michigan: Westview Press. p. 297. ISBN 9780813366715.
2. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Owyong, Yuet See Monica (2009-06-01). “Clothing semiotics and the social construction
of power relations”. Social Semiotics. 19 (2): 191–211. doi:10.1080/10350330902816434. ISSN 1035-0330. S2CID 144239853.
3. ^ Chandler, Daniel (June 14, 2017). Semiotics: the basics (3 ed.). Taylor & Francis. p. 332. ISBN 9781315311043.
4. ^ Jump
up to:a b c d e f g h i j k Rubinstein, Ruth (2001). Dress Codes: meanings and messages in American culture. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press. ISBN 978-0813322834.
5. ^ Davis, Fred. (1994). Fashion, Culture, and Identity. The University of Chicago
6. ^ Rubenstein, Ruth (2018). Dress Codes: Meanings And Messages In American Culture (2 ed.). Routledge. p. 388. ISBN 9780429974915.
7. ^ Maynard, argaret (1993). Fashioned from penury : dress as cultural practice in colonial Australia.
Cambridge University Press. p. 235. ISBN 9780521453103.
8. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j k l Kaiser, Susan (1997). The Social Psychology of Clothing. New York: Fairchild Publications. ISBN 978-1563671074.
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