Being seen in your pyjamas: the relationship between fashion, class, gender and space

Appleford, Katherine (2016) Being seen in your pyjamas: the relationship between fashion, class, gender and space. Gender, Place & Culture, 23(2), pp. 162-180. ISSN (print) 0966-369X

Abstract

Over the last decade class has re-emerged as a significant concept within British sociology, with prominent academics calling for a more Bourdieuian approach which focuses on class distinctions in cultural practices and tastes. Within this discussion, several note the important role fashion plays as a means of class distinction, though few have fully explore just how the fashion-class relationship operates. Based on empirical research, carried out as part of qualitative study into fashion practices and fashion discourse, this article examines the fashion-class relationship, by considering its links to both gender and space. It argues that the way in which women judge visibility and public space differs with class status and that this in turn has significant implications for women's fashion choices, and more specifically, dressing up. Indeed, whilst middle class participants tend to view almost any space as public and one in which they are visible, for working class participants neighbourhood and local spaces are seen to constitute semi-private spaces, whose audiences' opinions and judgements do not matter. As a result, being dressed in your pyjamas is not deeply problematic for these working class women in the context of their everyday lives, while for their middle class counterparts being seen in your pyjamas is something which should be avoided, at all cost. Moreover, as the article demonstrate, the wearing of pyjamas is often considered by middle class respondents as indicative of working classness. And thus, being seen in your pyjamas is undesirable on two counts.

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