Identity in clothing Essay


The work of Alison Lurie ( Lurie, 1983 ) “The Language of Clothes” and Didier Gondola’s ( Gondola, 2010 ) “La Sape Exposed! High Manner among Lower-Class Congolese Youth” will be discussed in order to analyze the construct of making an individuality through manner. The first thought of treatment is Lurie’s construct ( Lurie, 1983: 6 ) “Colour and Conformity” . Second Gondola’s remarks on the Sapeurs. The 3rd paragraph, using the Lurie construct of Colour and Conformity to the Sapeurs and in conclusion the Colour and Conformity of Lurie, applied to the Smarteez. Lurie provinces ( Lurie, 1983: 1 ) “Today, as semiologies become stylish, sociologists tell us that manner excessively is a linguistic communication of marks, a gestural system of communication” . In Gondola and Corrigall’s articles, they discuss the manner the sub-culture groups, Sapeurs and Smarteez used extravagant, colorful manner to lift above their challenged, destitute fortunes to make a showy individuality.

Lurie’s ( 1983 ) article “The Language of Clothes” argues that have oning apparels is a signifier of linguistic communication interpreted by all. Lurie provinces ( Lurie, 1983:1 ) “…human existences have communicated with one another first in the linguistic communication of dress…” In the subdivision “Colour and conformity” Lurie references that psychologists discovered, looking at different colorss may jump our critical marks and emotions ( Lurie, 1983: 1 ) . Lurie justifies this by claiming that when person is approached, the first thing that occupies the ocular field is the coloring material of vesture holding a great consequence on the nervous system. ( Lurie, 1983:2 ) “Loud, colliding colorss, like loud noises [ … ] may really ache our eyes or give us a headache…” . This implies that ( Lurie, 1983:2 ) “Colour in frock is besides similar tone of voice in speech…” . A white eventide frock communicates a different message than a vermilion one. ( Lurie, 1983:2 ) Harmonizing to Lurie ( Lurie, 1983:3 ) “Convention alters the significance of colorss harmonizing to the topographic point and clip at which they are worn.” The corporate environment requires conventional frock codification to pass on position, but the same people would have on colorful formalwear, proposing that non dressing in the recognized scope of coloring material for given state of affairss, attracts unfavourable attending. To the Sapeurs, doing an immediate impact with their colorful vesture was of greater importance than the attending they received.

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In his article “La Sape Exposed! High Manner Among Lower-Class Congolese Youth” ( Gondola, 2010: 157 ) Gondola remarks on the Sapeurs, the subjugation faced and the new individuality created in response to that. Gallic colonialism brought to Africa, a mission to educate the people. Gondola provinces ( Gondola, 2010: 158 ) “…theirmission civilisatricewas predicated on delivering [ … ] “primitive minds” [ … ] “primitive bodies” of the “naked people” . During the 1920s, the wordsape( frock ) andse saper (to dress fashionably ) was used to depict the manner energy that characterized Parisian socialites. ( Gondola, 2010: 158 ) They influenced the immature Sapeurs to dress fashionably, even over frock. Gondola remarks ( Gondola, 2010: 160 ) “…Congolese houseboys spurned their Masterss secondhand apparels [ … ] passing their meager rewards abundantly to get the latest manners from Paris” . After independency of the Congo’s in 1960, immature Congolese flocked to Europe, because of economic pandemonium. Their dreams of a new life hindered by favoritism. Gondola argues ( Gondola, 2010: 165 ) “…La sapebecame a safety that enabled them to hammer new individualities off from home…” Gondola’s composing high spots that the sapeurs overcame their battles by leting manner to be the kernel of their individuality through the usage of vivacious suits.

(, 2015 ) “Within this society, work forces are encouraged to hold their ain sense of manner, conveying an individualized definition of edification and elegance that suits each character and enriches the group as a whole” . This image of the Sapeurs is an illustration of Gondala’s remark ( Gondola, 2010: 158 ) “One could easy descry them sauntering down the avenues [ … ] in expensive and showy attire” . Uniting a upper limit of three colorss was their thought of flawlessness. ( Michalon, 2015 ) “The ways of Sapeology are impenetrable for any Sapeologist who does non cognize the regulation of 3: a trilogy of finished and unfinished colours” . They had to cognize the regulations of elegance, which implied fiting colorss harmoniusly without being inordinate. ( Gondola, 2010 ) The loud and dramatic message the Sapeurs portray in this image does non hold a negative consequence, as Lurie implies ( Lurie, 1983: 2 ) because of their fashionable matching of colorss. Like the Sapeurs overcame their obstructions through their manner individuality, the Smarteez besides formed an individuality through their inordinate colourful garb.



In her article “AGAINST THE Machine: THE ‘SMARTEEZ’ FASHION A NEW POST-APARTHEID IDENTITY” Mary Corrigall writes about the Smarteez ( Corrigall, 2011: 2 ) “a youth-driven street manner sub-culture” . The image of the group above reflects their dramatic outfits. ( Corrigall, 2011: 2 ) “The Smarteez outfits are brassy and overly colorful and therefore instantly recognizable as in the vena of foppishness in which the topics appear like costumed objects” . Lurie argues ( Lurie, 1983: 4 ) “ some people may avoid colors they like because of the belief [ … ] that they are unbecoming, while others may have on colorss they dislike for symbolic reasons” . The defining characteristic of the Smarteez was uniting primary colorss in their outfits, mentioning to their name, “ a bright candied cocoa confection” . ( Corrigall, 2011: 3 ) The name smart refers to their formal wear and rational sharp-sightedness. ( Corrigall, 2011: 3 ) “…the Smarteez garb is a lampoon of the in-between category values” . Harmonizing to Lurie ( Lurie, 1983: 1 ) “…dress is a continual manifestation of confidant ideas, a linguistic communication and a symbol.” Rejecting those who did non have on brilliantly coloured apparels. Therefore they set out to make their ain alone individuality.

The purpose of this essay was to measure Lurie’s ( 1983 ) “The Language of Clothes” , specifically her treatment of “Colour and Conformity” and Didier Gondola’s ( Gondola, 2010 ) “La Sape Exposed! [ … ] Congolese Youth” by analyzing the construct of making individuality through manner. Lurie remarks on vesture as a linguistic communication that communicates. Using color attracts favourable or unfavourable attending. The Sapeurs created an complete and affluent individuality through colorful vesture, their floridness doing immediate impact. The Smarteez valued their brilliantly coloured vesture to the extent of rejecting those that did non conform. Therefore these subcultural groups rose above their battles by making new individualities through manner.


Gondola, D. ( 2010 ) ‘La Sape Exposed! High Manner among Lower-Class Congolese Youth ‘ . Gott, S.L.K. ( ed. )Contemporary African Fashion, 1stedition, Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Lurie, A. ( 1983 )The Language of apparels, Random House Inc.

Leroux, D. ( 2014 )Forget the hippie manner, preppy, preppy aureate swag. Nothing compares to the Fire of Congo, 11 Nov, [ Online ] , Available: hypertext transfer protocol: // [ 24 May 2015 ] .

Edsuter ( 2015 )The Smarteez | Ed Suter, [ Online ] , Available: hypertext transfer protocol: // [ 24 May 2015 ] . ( 2015 )Sapeurs: The creativeness of African fashionistas | OBV, [ Online ] , Available: hypertext transfer protocol: // [ 24 May 2015 ] .

Michalon, N. ( 2015 )Sussing out “ La Sape ” : manner, scientific discipline or faith? –, 07 Apr, [ Online ] , Available: hypertext transfer protocol: // [ 24 May 2015 ] .

Corrigall, M. ( 2011 ) ‘Against the Machine: The ‘Smarteez ‘ Fashion a new post-apartheid individuality ‘ , Fashion Conference, Oxford, 1-4.



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