Few studies have addressed why contemporary women use dress to reveal and/or
conceal their own bodies. The scant literature on revealing and concealing focuses largely
on historical dress, dress of Muslim women, and on women's views about women in
general, rather than their views about themselves.
The purpose of this study was to investigate (1) whether or not young
undergraduate women consider revealing and concealing their own bodies as relevant to
their clothing choices and (2) what young women say influences their choices regarding revealing and concealing their bodies. Eight young Caucasian women at a large
Midwestern university were interviewed separately. Data were analyzed qualitatively.
The themes that emerged suggest that many factors interact to form an
individual's perspective on revealing and concealing her own body. The three main
themes are: 1) socialization and appropriateness, 2) fitting in and standing out, and (3)
self-focused dressing motives. Socialization considers how the participant learned values
concerning revealing and concealing her body. Appropriateness is concerned with how
participants evaluated revealing and concealing as fitting themselves and/or situations.
Fitting in and standing out relates to the use of dress within the women's social group or a
particular social scene. Self-focused dressing motives are concerned with choices that an
individual makes with herself as the focus. The main factor in self-focused dressing motives was comfort; a secondary factor was self-expression. Implications are drawn for
the marketing of clothing to this demographic. Specifically, marketers should describe
how clothing items fit particular body types and work for particular situations.
University of Minnesota M.A. thesis. January 2012. Major:Design, Housing/Apparel. Advisor: Dr. Marilyn R. DeLong. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 139 pages, appendices I-IV.
Cohn, Caitlin S..
Revealing and concealing:a qualitative study of young women’s views of dress choices..
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