Why Americans dress so casually and my #WCW


Introducing Deirdre Clemente, a historian of 20th century American culture at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas! Her research focuses on fashion and clothing and the patterns and trends she’s followed are really interesting. She did an interview with Robert A. Ferdman of the Washington Post and it’s really educational. For example, individuality is obviously a big part of today’s culture, what with the lower barrier of entry for startups and freelancers and the acceptance of some more counter-culture type groups. In terms of clothing choice is more important than ever, and something that is no longer class-restricted.

There are so many different kinds of social and cultural personas that we can put on, and our clothes have become extremely emblematic of that. And the thing is, even if you don’t have a lot of money, you can now dress freely, individually.

Other topics included the size of the impact of pants on women (hint: huge) and women wearing menswear. She illustrates that every idea we have about clothing, like what’s casual versus what’s formal, is informed by years and years of cultural shaping and it’s really brilliant. She touched on the prevalence of sportswear in US daily wear as well:

The American love of sportswear and comfortable clothes has redefined the limits, and it’s affecting the limits elsewhere too, since others emulate us.

That reminded me of that slightly odd Russian tracksuit phenomenon and how popular US branded sneakers are all over the world, and especially in Asian countries.

The last answer she gave about how previously it was predicted that we would all wear uniforms in the future was wrong really got me thinking about the number of science fiction illustrations and references also hinted at the same thing; even though I think it’s pretty obvious now that uniforms for day-to-day wear definitely isn’t “in.”

I kind of wish I studied what she studied, and hope I can get to her level about fragrances one day!

I linked her academic page above, but here’s a link to her personal website.

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