Sonia D. Andras deposited Fashion, Dress, Costume: a Proposed Terminological Clarification in the Historical Research of Women’s Clothing (Preprint) in the group Postcolonial Studies on Humanities Commons 2 years ago
This paper delineates the conceptual variations between the notions ‘fashion’, ‘dress’ and ‘costume’ in English-language texts on women’s garment histories using relevant examples from interwar Romanian periodicals. The aim is to offer a more precise formulation, as these three terms have largely been used interchangeably. This paper is built on an interdisciplinary model stemming from fashion studies towards semiotics, sociology and cultural and art history. I define ‘fashion’ as a permanently changing progeny of modernity linked to capitalism and consumerism, but also to modernism and technological progress. ‘Dress’ is a generalised term for clothing worn in a variety of contexts connected more to identity or activity. ‘Costume’ narrows the scope of ‘dress’ to a particular style or outfit suggesting specific markers of social position, occupation or ethnicity and can often be deemed as necessary for admission, recognition or acceptability in certain contexts. ‘Fashion’ would then chiefly apply to cultural studies or history, ‘dress’ to anthropology or sociology and ‘costume’ to ethnology or media and art history. Using interwar Romanian examples, this paper offers a viable terminological clarification regarding genre, subject, scope and usability for historical sartorial themes.