Habits of Being 2
How garments—signaling and altering identity—circulate through culture and the economy
The second in a four-part series charting the social, cultural, and political expression of clothing, dress, and accessories, Exchanging Clothes focuses on the concept of transnational “circulation and exchange.” These essays focus on not only the global exchange of material commodities across time and space but also of the ideas, images, colors, and textures related to fashion.
Clothing may not make the man (or woman), but it helps. How clothing as a vestige and artifact and as transmitter of identity moves from one use to another, from one fantasy to another fad, from one literary source to another visual one: these are the concerns of the essays in this volume.
The second in a four-part series charting the social, cultural, and political expression of clothing, dress, and accessories, Exchanging Clothes focuses on the concept of transnational “circulation and exchange”—not only the global exchange of material commodities across time and space but also of the ideas, images, colors, and textures related to fashion. Essays examine the parade of heroes past, from Homer and Virgil to Dante and Ariosto, wearing armor or nothing; the social power of a tie or of a safety pin sprung from punk fashion to the red carpet; a Midwestern thrift store, from cheap labor to cheap purchase, as a microcosm of global circulation; and lesbian pulp fiction as how-to-dress manuals.
Whether looking at Kate Chopin’s silk stockings, Nellie Bly’s capacious bag, Audrey Hepburn’s cross-Atlantic travels, rings in James Merrill’s poetry, or feminine ornaments in Algeria, these essays offer an ever-expanding vision of how fashion moves through culture and the economy, reflecting and determining identity at every stage and turn of the transaction.
Contributors: Nello Barile, IULM U, Milan; Vittoria C. Caratozzolo, Sapienza, U of Rome; Alisia Grace Chase, SUNY, Brockport; Chafika Dib-Marouf, Jules Verne U, Picardie; Anne Hollander; Mariuccia Mandelli (Krizia); Andrea Mariani, Gabriele d’Annunzio U, Chieti-Pescara; Katalin Medvedev, U of Georgia; Laura Montani; Karen Reimer; Cristina Scatamacchia, U of Perugia.
Preface and Acknowledgments
Clothing, Dress, Fashion: An Arcade
Introduction. Walking the Walk: Circulation and Exchange
1. Accessory Questions
2. Krizia and Accessories
3. The Dress of Thought: Clothing and Nudity in Homer, Virgil, Dante, and Ariosto
4. Orbits of Power: Rings in James Merrill’s Poetry
5. Sheer Luxury: Kate Chopin’s “A Pair of Silk Stockings”
6. Traveling Light: Nellie Bly’s All-Inclusive Bag
7. Like Their First Pair of High Heel Shoes: Continental Accessories and Audrey Hepburn’s Cinematic Coming of Age
Alisia Grace Chase
8. Word-Processed for You by a Professional Seamstress
9. Slips of the Tongue: Lesbian Pulp Fiction as How-to-Dress Manuals
10. A Safety Pin for Elizabeth: Hard-Edge Accessorizing from Punk Subculture to High Fashion
Vittoria C. Caratozzolo
11. A Knot to Untie: Social Power, Fetishism, and Communication in the Social History of the Tie
12. Ornaments and Feminine Clothing Tradition in Algeria; or the Identity Quest
13. It Is a Garage Sale at Savers Every Day: An Ethnography of the Savers Thrift Department Store in Minneapolis
Coda: Speaking Out and Speaking Up: The Circulating Power of Fashion
The fabric of female friendship is woven often through the exchange of clothing. One friend borrows a dress, another loans a bracelet, a third needs a clean T-shirt, and on and on.
Women shop together and covet each others’ garments; we also cast them off as gifts or hand-me-downs. Lacking daughters, I give away clothes to friends, students, and now, my daughter-in-law. Before my mother died, we exchanged jeans as she fit into old pairs I no longer could zip up and I acquired hers that swam on her diminished hips. These items themselves rarely matter much.
But sometimes they do. This is the story of one such exchange.