Semiotics of dress

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The semiotics of dress is a term used to refer to the design and customs associated with dress (clothing), as patterned to a kind of symbolism that has rules and norms.

The human body is the central element of this symbolic language. The style and manner of dress are informed by the biological and social needs of the human being. Central to the semiotics of dress is the psychology of self-perception and self-presentation,[1] both as individuals who see themselves, as well how individuals are seen within a greater group, society, culture or subculture.

Triple function[edit]

Clothing has been seen to provide three functions, comfort, modesty, and display[2] - the semiotics of dress being linked to the third function, that of displaying lifestyle choices (modern society) or class and status (traditional societies).[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ A. Wagner, Law, Culture and Visual Studies (2013) p. 244
  2. ^ Desmond Morris, Manwatching (1987) p. 213
  3. ^ T. Van Leewen, Introducing Social Semiotics (2005) p. 40

Further Reading[edit]

  • R. Broby-Johansen, Body and Clothes (1968)
  • J. C. Flugel, The Psychology of Clothes (1930)