Courtney Nicole Chrimes,
Dr Rosy Boardman,
Dr Helen McCormick
& Dr Gianpaolo Vignali
University of Manchester, UK
The dress and the self: How dress styles express identities
Clothing one’s body denotes a clear intentional behaviour. Literature highlights that females purchase certain products and clothing styles to achieve their desired body shape or to hide or flatter areas of their body. Additionally, Kang, Johnson and Kim (2013) found that clothing is a tool that assists consumers in achieving an ideal appearance and has the ability to alter one’s mood, enabling them to either camouflage or bolster their self- confidence. This suggests that there is a link between an individual’s body perception and their clothing preferences and that clothing choice reflects the individual. Building on previous studies, this paper investigates how women express their identity through different styles of dresses, exploring what a specific type of dress can say about an individual’s perception of self.
A mixed methods study was conducted involving: 1. A quantitative online questionnaire, which established females’ preferred style of dress and 2. Qualitative semi-structured interviews which explored how different styles of dresses create different identities. A convenience sample of 263 (phase 1) and 15 (phase 2) UK females aged 18-34 was obtained. The questionnaire data was analysed through descriptive statistics and the qualitative interviews were analysed through a process of coding. Findings indicate that different styles of dresses are used to express different types of identity. This paper contributes to the academic literature regarding fashion choice and the perception of one’s self, fashion identity and the clothing selection process. This paper also provides retailers with a better insight into consumers’ clothing preferences and their associations with different styles of dresses, which can inform their marketing and sales strategies.