we all seem to agree that it can be used to make "statements" but what are the other potential illocutionary forces of fashion? can you ask questions, make requests, greet, apologize, congratulate? this started as a joke idea in my head but actually now i want to read a full analysis of fashion through the lens of speech act theory

@aparrish this seems like the kind of thing people would have been obsessed with in like the court of versailles or whatever

@aparrish you can absolutely ask questions with fashion. you can do all these things, tbqh

@aparrish when you attend a funeral wearing black, you apologize to the deceased's loved ones for their loss.
if you wore red, you'd insult them.

@aparrish you celebrate by wearing a sparkly dress to a big party!

@aparrish you congratulate by wearing "nice" clothes - nothing too statementy, not too plain - to a wedding or graduation party.

@t54r4n1 @aparrish exactly- you gave great examples! Especially for queers back in the day, clothing could be both a question- ‘do you recognize me?’ And an invitation, via particularly colored neckties, specific flowers in your buttonhole, wearing your nails short on one hand as a femme, etc

@aparrish It seems clear to me that one can do lots of things with fashion that can also be done with words. I immediately thought of adding protesting and insulting to your list. I couldn't think of a good example of asking a question, that didn't rely on some preexisting explicit code. Which, it seems, can be done for any action, but then makes the question trivial.

@aparrish have you read any of Valerie steele’s work? She’s a fashion historian and that’s basically her whole jam- fashion speaks, and what it says and why are culturally & historically loaded. She’s a great place to start on this!

@aparrish I work in the industry & am a big fashion history nerd, so I have a lot of thoughts and feelings on this, lol

@aparrish And I wonder about [looks up the correct term] performative speech acts, like "I hereby ___". I think you can say/do things about yourself with fashion ("I hereby come out as ___" :-P) but can you announce things about other people as well?

@aparrish Given the existence of the fashion police, you can commit crimes


Saw two very fashionable women on the elevator yesterday. Both wearing super high-heels. I looked at the Red Wing boots I've worn everywhere since 2002 and thought, "OK, we've established that they don't have to walk 10' to and from a copier every 10-20 minutes, but that I do." :D

@xenophora @aparrish Oh yes. Signalling of class and wealth via clothing goes alllllll the way back.

Wearing floor-length garments, wearing white, wearing strong colours, excessive use of fabric, were all signals of wealth in the past in most societies.

And sumptuary laws in some places dictated who could wear what jewellery and fabrics, based on class (or income).

What the exact signifiers are and how clear they are has changed, but the overall intent and message really haven't.

@dartigen @aparrish

I once tried to explain to some Lefty dudes sneering at the equal pay concept the class dynamic of the office receptionist having to dress up like the lady exec: being expected to look as much as possible like she was paid an exec's wages even though she was not. Of course, I failed utterly. 🙄

@xenophora @aparrish Oh yes. And then there's the reverse, where executives show up in tracksuit pants and ugg boots because they're desperately trying to look like they're not paid 10x as much as the receptionist (and/or their position allows them to flout the dress code, but the receptionist cannot).

@dartigen @aparrish

[nod] Not to mention that they've got somebody to cover them while they spend 90 minutes at the gym in the afternoon. The regular staff, meanwhile, only gets to go in the evening when they're already exhausted from the day's work. :/

@xenophora @aparrish Oh god, don't start me on the class coding in exercise gear...

The wealthy wear specific brands that promote themselves as fashionable athletic wear, the middling wear generic but recognizable brands, but if you're wearing something with no branding on you could either be too poor for specific workout clothes, or so rich that you can afford indie brand workout gear.

(And tradies working out in their work gear is a trend I noticed last time I went to a gym...)

@dartigen @aparrish

I temped for one of those chi-chi sportswear companies. (In the warehouse. They wouldn't have had my flabby hippie self in retail and thank God for that.) Blecchhh!!

@aparrish hmm... I don't know speech act theory, but I did think of an example - mourning garb as a non-verbal request for appropriate behavior (although it was somewhat coercive as well...)

And things like sporting teams wearing a black armband because a player has passed away as smaller versions of that.

@aparrish hmmm!

Congratulate, shame, challenge, yes.

Questions like... "will you let me in here like this?" Or " what WILL the weather be today?"

Arguments are like statements, I suppose, "F your dress code."

And yes, I think you can be welcoming or unwelcoming through fashion; or apologetic, supportive, hostile

You can cast a vote by wearing the correct color or hat shape in some communities

Me: *writing an essay about illocutionary force*
Also me: I need a break, I'll look at Mastodon
Also me: ...did I just see the word "illocutionary"?!

Yeah I did. I love it here.

@error_1202 ...oddly this is the second time I've seen the word illocutionary today.

@error_1202 'Tis, though I didn't know the exact definition of the word until now.

@rhiannonrevolts It's actually a reasonably interesting thing to put in an essay. (I'm just sick of writing essays.)

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