In my other life I’m an academic librarian with faculty status, which means I get/have to do research in order to get tenure. I’ve published a few fashion-related things (encyclopedia essays, book reviews) but I’ve just finally published my first REAL publication, a research journal article! So if you’re into what I’m into (the history of fashion from a social/cultural studies perspective), and you want to wander by a local library or randomly buy a copy from the Costume Society of America’s website, check out my article: “A Style All Her Own”: Fashion, Clothing Practices, and Female Community at Smith College, 1920-1929 in the 2005 (yes, just published) issue of Dress.
This article looks at fashion in the 1920s among women’s college students (at Smith College), looking both at how they acquired fashion (clothing and hair services) and the role that fashion played in the campus community. In case you’re interested, here’s the abstract: “An examination of the clothing practices and the role of fashion in the lives of Smith College students illustrates that despite cultural and conceptual changes, these women had more in common with prior generations than may have been previously assumed. While students did avail themselves of the new widespread accessibility of mass-produced fashion goods and spent time and money on hair services, professionally sewn and home-sewn garments still made up a large portion of their wardrobes. Although acquiring fashionable dress served as a tool with which Smith women competed with their peers, it also continued to be one means through which they preserved a supportive female community. As students shopped, sewed and dressed together with their classmates and their mothers, they forged female friendships, sustained family relationships, and created an identity as college women and, more specifically, Smith College women.”
I am working on another article based on the same research, but looking at how Smith College students interpreted the “meanings” of fashion (was it progressive? sexual?) and how that related to their conceptions of their personal and gender identity… but that one is still in peer-review land and will probably take me another three years to publish. I’ll let you know how that one works out!