Week 11 Post-Class

In class, we continued to explore the relationship between bodies and clothing. Whose body is the clothing on? How does who is wearing the clothing make us view the garments differently? What is the basis of these ideas? Where did we get them from?

We started class with a quote from Dorthy Ko, “The very idea of the native itself is a modern invention.” Looking at Roxy’s post from earlier this week, she stated that “people can relate certain looks with certain stereotypes.” Roxy continued on to explain how many fashion stores in the United States market something as to be regional, such as “Mexican inspired dresses” or the “Mayan Princess Tunic.” What is the reality of these countries’ fashions opposed to the invented sociological images in Western fashion discourse?

Let’s look at the blog post we viewed in class, “Don’t Sleep on Africa” as an example. The constricted view that many people hold sees Africa in a previous historical moment, instead of considering them to be contemporaneous.

Zambian children

The blog, blackcigarette, showed some South African street style that differs greatly from the image above:

This outfit must be mine.

How do our ideas of people and their identities influence what we image they will wear? Not only should we question what stories and associations we attach to certain types of clothing, but what kind of clothing do we connect with certain people?

Discussion ended with trying to establish a difference between vintage stores and second-hand clothing stores. Again, we discussed how this depends on who is wearing the clothing. One person brought up that having the privilege of being able to choose is what made clothing vintage against second-hand.

Check out my ironic ugly sweater attire! lolz right?

Another person thought it came down to a certain confidence and the way a person carries themselves. Perhaps it has to do with being knowledgeable about what clothing you are wearing. Many people expressed humor at the fact that an African child wearing “I had my birthday party at McDonalds” probably had not, in fact, had a birthday party at McDonalds. The lose of translation that we interpret has an effect on how we view the garments.

Either way you see it, how we view the clothing a person is wearing is directly correlated to what person is wearing the apparel.



12 thoughts on “Week 11 Post-Class

  1. I agree that we can attribute false characteristics of cultures into our clothing. We usually distinguish a person on what they are wearing without realizing that what we believe may be false. For example, at Charlotte Russe we usually receive an ethnic inspired type of clothing line for our summer season. The names given to these styles usually have some connection to Latino/Hispanic culture. The noticeable features of the clothing are usually full of bright colors, embroidered designs, and many things similar to this. What I don’t understand is where people get the idea to connect this type of attire to a certain culture, when in fact their clothing practices are nowhere near how they are represented in our society. This could be due to how we stereotype a person by what they wear. Since stereotyping plays a huge part in our own clothing practices. We tend to lump all groups with similar characteristics together and make generalizations about how these groups are represented. For example, I’m Mexican but I never wear any bright, ethnic inspired peasant tops.

  2. I too think that at the end of the day it all boils down to not only who’s wearing what but also the class that individual who’s wearing what belongs to as well as why and in what context the clothes are being worn in. If a wealthy person wears tattered or “common people” clothes they are not looked at as poor or common, they are seen as humble, resourceful and “down-to-Earth” individuals. However if someone is dressed modestly because they don’t have the option of dressing otherwise, they may in many situations be mocked or ridiculed even shunned by wealthier classes of people. Tattered clothing isn’t considered cool if a homeless person is wearing them. In contrast if that same tattered item was designed by Dolce and Gabbana not only does it take on a new contextual meaning but the individual wearing it is stating without saying the means of financial resources that is available to them.

  3. I found the discussion we had in class about the difference between “vintage” and “secondhand very interesting. It reminded me of Carrie from Sex and the City who frequently mixes vintages clothing with designer shoes. I completely agree with the comment made in class that what makes her (or anyone else’s) clothing vintage is the fact that they chose to buy something that was already used by someone else. It also makes a difference how someone wears used clothing that classifies it as vintage or secondhand. If they wear it with confidence without any shame or consideration that it was already worn then it becomes vintage or thrifty. If, however, they seem embarrassed or ashamed of where their clothing came from, it will be seen as secondhand and cheap. Socio-economic classes also play a large role in defining vintage/thrifty vs. secondhand/used. I mentioned in class I think this also has a large influence on how people from metropolitan areas see the fashion of those from rural or smaller communities. Coming from a small town I know first hand what might be cool and fashionable in my hometown might be looked at as outdated in the suburbs. Vintage shops do not exist in small towns and a student would never want to admit that they shopped at a secondhand store. They are automatically seen as lower in class than those students that travel all the way (a whole hour and a half) to the nearest mall and buy new “in fashion” clothing. Goes back to my previous point, people are ashamed that they can only afford used clothing thus it appears as secondhand rather than thrifty. It all boils down to choice of what to wear the confidence in their appearance.

  4. I think that this discussion about vintage clothing and second hand clothing is very interesting as well. I’d have to agree that the difference between second hand and vintage is defined by the wearer or a seller. I think that the growing popularity of sites and people who search for interesting second hand clothing in second hand stores, such as the village discount in Chicago or Salvation Army, and selling it at a inflated price and calling it vintage is a interesting process in itself. I think that it is also interesting how American Apparel now sells vintage pieces of clothing for high prices when you can go to your local thrift store and find similar pieces that could be seen as second hand. But those thrifty people who do go to those stores, can easily say that it’s vintage. Someone previously said something about Sex and the City. And it seems that to these ladies, it is only vintage if it is a old designer brand. For example in the second Sex and the City movie, Carrie buys Mr.Big a rolex which she specifically says is vintage and Charlotte talks about her vintage white Valentino skirt. Some other terms I’ve heard are calling pieces of clothing “archival” so now it would be interesting to discuss how this new term fits in to the discussion of vintage and second hand.

  5. I think that it all comes down to who is wearing the clothing and how they wear it. Someone’s body type also has an influence on how the clothing looks like on that person. I also thought that the discussion we had of vintage clothing and secondhand clothing was interesting. In class, we also discussed how in order to characterize what the clothing is, it depends what neighborhood the store is in. For example, if it is a nice boutique in a nicer neighborhood, it would probably be called a vintage store and they will sell more expensive clothing. I think people are also less likely to say if you got something at a thrift store or Salvation Army because some people might associate that with not having a lot of money. While if someone were to say that something is vintage or that they got it from a boutique it would mean that it was more valuable. When I hear vintage, the first thing that comes to my mind is older, more expensive clothing. Another part of the class discussion that I found interesting was how all the clothes that are donated to other countries don’t have meaning to a lot of the people who are wearing them. For example, the child who was wearing the shirt that said “I had a birthday party at McDonalds.” I thought it was interesting that in our society we want to keep up with fashion, while in other places people will wear what they get because they are in need.

  6. I found this days class really thought provoking. The concept that I wrestled with in my mind was the idea that we rename some second has clothes as vintage. Depending on the age of recycling, condition of use, quality and cyclical reuse of the clothing determines weather we call a fashion second hand or vintage. In addition to all these requirements I feel we subconsciously evaluate the body the clothes are being presented on, (as one of our reading discussed) and make second decisions on which to call the style. I had never previously thought about this idea, but now I question some stores that buy second hand clothing and sell them as vintage. I wonder how they decided what should be taken to the salvation army and what should be resold in their stores. I also would like to note that clothing that are sold at vintage stores are often overly priced, in comparison to clothing sold at second hand thrift stores.

  7. I reallly enjoyed this topic, its quite interesting to analyze what makes a certain fashion “cool” and what does not. Do the clothes speak for themselves, or does the person make the clothes cool? It’s sad that we are so quick to make a snap judgment on people based on their fashion. After watching the film in class and seeing the little kids wearing MTV and McDonalds shirts i found myself judging them. It was more so funny to me, because clearly they had never been to these places, or listened to this boy band that was on their shirt. But if I was walking on the quad and saw this same shirt on someone else with a pair of Ray Bans and cool shoes I would look at it totally different. Someone mentioned in a previous post that confidence has a lot to do with a fashion is “cool” or not. It can be the ugliest shirt in my opinion but if they’re rocking it like it’s the best shirt on earth it makes you look at it differently. It has a lot to do with the body that the clothes are wearing. It’s the creativeness of the person and how they choose to wear it. For example ive gotten so many things from the thrift store and made it my own and loved it, but this was someone elses trash. Thats interesting to think about, it just depends on the person and never the actual clothing.

  8. Fashion is so strange… In my art class I was really interested in the way some of the girls dressed. They made their own clothes and bought from thrift/vintage stores. Honestly, these clothes were some of the ugliest I had ever seen. But the way they wore them and the bodies they were on made them some of the most fashionable Ive seen. For example, I saw one shirt (an old mickey mouse t-shirt and another old tee.. very similar to the clothes in T-shirt travels) that was taken apart and sewed together to make one very cute and fashionable t shirt. This blog post reminds me of our very first class and “mom jeans.” Its very true that class and the way a person looks changes the way that clothes are perceived on a person (for example the alleged homeless man the fashion blog) Fashion is a tricky thing,it can express who you are.. who you want to be… or can be a great disguise…

  9. I agree with you that the perception of fashion is greatly dependent on the person who is wearing the clothing. I think it is very telling that people would not be surprised to hear about a New York socialite wearing daring and bold fashions, but the idea that African street fashion could be similarly risky and stylish is shocking to us. People bring a lot of preconceived notions with them about what a certain kind of person should be like, and who is allowed to properly wear certain types of fashions. In order to move forward into a place of greater cultural understanding, I believe it is necessary to let go of some of these preconceptions and recognize that fashion should be accessible to all people regardless of nationality and socioeconomic status.

  10. This lecture was one of my favorites all semester. I thought it was really interesting looking at how young people dress in places that are often considered underprivileged. All of the people photographed in this blog had a certain style and confidence about them just like the some people we often see in the United States. I think at most times we just feel as though since most other places aren’t as fortunate as us we undermine their taste or ability in certain things. As far as the difference between vintage and second hand clothing, I believe people decide that by whose wearing it. If a socialite goes into a thrift store and they purchase something it will instantly be considered a trend and vintage because they are looked at as a person with fashion sense from the beginning. It’s as if they can do no wrong. However, if a homeless man walks into a thrift store and buys a t-shirt, it is considered second hand because “he can’t do any better” and has no choice over what he wears. This argument comes down to choice and status.

  11. I think that the idea of second hand and vintage is extremely interesting. While the clothes are essentially the same, vintage stores or boutique stores make their clothing seem like it is one of a kind, highly fashionable pieces. I think that the idea of one of a kind highly influences why vintage clothing is so unique and expensive. The fact that people who shop at vintage stores think that they might never see anyone wearing their clothes makes the vintage stores able to price their clothes higher. This also shows that the seller and the setting that the clothes were bought at matters as well. Since both second-hand stores and vintage stores have unique, one of a kind items, it just matters who is selling it and how it is displayed. I think that we mentioned in class the possibility that people who own vintage stores or shop for them might even go into stores like Goodwill or Salvation Army and pick out the most fashionable items and then mark them up. This means that there is no possible difference in the clothing, just in the wearer and the seller. People who shop at vintage stores are also seen differently than those who shop at second hand. Unless someone is shopping at a second hand store for a certain occasion, i.e. an ugly Christmas sweater party, then they are viewed as poor and unable to afford clothing.

  12. I think this is a really interesting post and I strongly agree with the statement that who is doing the wearing great leads to how we interpret what they are wearing. For example, the vintage versus second-hand clothing argument. For people of a lower socio-economic class, these clothes are all they have. They do not make as much money and therefore can afford only what the second-hand stores offer. If people are believed to be in a lower economic class and wearing these tattered, worn-out clothes we tend to have a negative view on them. However, college students frequent second-hand stores too-looking for deals. Yet, when we wear something from the store it becomes vintage and we are accepted into mainstream culture as though we bought the clothing from some high-end retailer. If we are not buying the clothes to wear seriously, then we are buying them to mock them at for example, an ugly sweater Christmas party.

    I also thought it was interesting that we looked at the African cultures as out-of-date as they bought and distributed clothes that were donated and given away in the United States. Many of the fashions would be seen as out-of-fashion in the U.S. but this is what the African communities had to select from. Do we look down upon the African culture simply because they are not buying the clothes brand new like we did originally? Do clothes lose that much value after previous ownership? Again this is an instance in where clothing is looked down upon because the person who is wearing it is believed to be of a much lower socio-economic class.

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