Materialised Ideals: Sizes and Beauty

Kirsi Laitala, Ingun Grimstad Klepp and Benedicte Hauge

Abstract

Today’s clothing industry is based on a system where clothes are made in ready-to-wear sizes and meant to fit most people. Studies have pointed out that consumers are discontent with the use of these systems: size designations are not accurate enough to find clothing that fits, and different sizes are poorly available. This article discusses in depth who these consumers are, and which consumer groups are the most dissatisfied with today’s sizing systems. Results are based on a web survey where 2834 Nordic consumers responded, complemented with eight in-depth interviews, market analysis on clothing sizes and in-store trouser size measurements.

Results indicate that higher shares of the consumers who have a body out of touch with the existing beauty ideals express discontentment with the sizing systems and the poor selection available. In particular, large women, very large men, and thin, short men are those who experience less priority in clothing stores and have more difficulties in finding clothes that fit. Consumers tend to blame themselves when the clothes do not fit their bodies, while our study points out that the industry is to blame as they do not produce clothing for all customers.

Click here to read the full article (cultureunbound.ep.liu.se).

Reading Fashion as Age: Teenage Girls’ and Grown Women’s Accounts of Clothing as Body and Social Status

Ingun Grimstad Klepp and Ardis Storm-Mathisen

Abstract

If you don’t follow fashion, you wear, like, sorta childish clothes

(girl, aged thirteen)

I think about my age before wearing something that seems rather daring

(woman, aged forty-one)

This article discusses the similarities and differences in how women in two different stages of life describe the relationship between fashion and age. The analytical approach is basically discursive, based on Norwegian teenage girls’ and adult women’s verbal accounts of clothing and clothing practices in conversational interviews undertaken in the late 1990s.

Prevailing discourses as to what represents a breach of clothing conventions are to be found in the ways young girls and grown women talk about clothes. When clothes are used in accordance with conventions and norms, they are not noticed much. However, when clothes are used in a way that differs from the norm, this can attract attention and provoke reactions. By comparing narratives of clothing provided by respondents of the same sex and approximately the same class background but of different ages, we gain access to material that is particularly well suited to illustrate the significance of age in conventions governing clothing and fashion.

Click here to read the full article (tandfonline.com).