Dress Code: Unlocking Fashion from the New Look to Millennial Pink

Harper Perennial. Mar. 2022. 288p. ISBN 9780063050839. pap. $16.99. SOC SCI
“Clothes make the person” is perhaps not a statement one usually associates with feminist politics but a concept that fascinates and perplexes feminist historians and gender theorists while also often frustratingly seeming to trap women in a superficial set of standards related to the body. This book by Elle magazine fashion editor Hyland is a welcome addition to this conversation (preceded by the likes of Emily Robinovitch-Fox’s Dressed for Freedom). Here Hyland powerfully argues that to dismiss fashion as something stereotypically feminine and ephemeral, would mean denying its dailiness and its iterative creation of individuals as they engage with the world. Hyland contends that such a dismissal reifies a binary opposition that privileges masculine values over feminine ones. She effectively unpacks why clothing is a political choice and carefully considers the particular scrutiny of the personal appearances of women of color. Calling up her previous research for blogs such as The Cut, along with analysis of primary sources, the author delves into cultural fascination with youth and beauty—a phenomenon that is accompanied by dissection and often criticism of the fashion choices and influences of teenage girls.
VERDICT Anyone who opts in to wearing clothes (and even those who opt out) should pay attention to this book.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing