Jill Fields

in An Intimate Affair

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2007 | ISBN: 9780520223691
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520941137 | DOI:

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This introductory chapter discusses the history of undergarments. It starts with a section on the earliest efforts to institute state-sponsored fashion police or to identify clothing as a signifier of morality and mental state. This is followed by a section on the division between male and female dress, which has been and remains fundamental to clothing design. It then looks at underwear, which is considered as an important part of the gendered fashion system. The discussion also provides a brief look at the history of the evolution of these garments' shape and purpose, which reveals how the struggles of women for self-definition have interacted with resistant social forces to reconfigure gender distinctions. A review of previous costume studies that provide more information on the history of undergarments and the changes that these have gone through is included. The latter portion of the chapter is devoted to a summary of the following chapters.

Keywords: undergarments; history; clothing; morality; clothing design; gendered fashion system; costume studies; gender distinctions

Chapter.  6730 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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