Miss Hu is the subject that received my invitation to make an interview. Miss Hu is one of my cousins, the daughter of the elder brother of my mother. In my impression, she has a lot of clothes. One of her favorite hobbies is to go shopping. She is also an undergraduate student. Miss Hu is born to a well-off family. When she is still at high school, her parents have planned to send her abroad because her parents think that an experience studying abroad, alone, would make her more independent and powerful. In her spare time, Miss Hu spends a lot of time to keep track of news and information about fashion. I thought that Miss Hu was the best option to receive my interview. When I asked her to receive my interview, she readily accepted my invitation on the condition that I should spare one day to go shopping with her. Without choice, I had to accept her request although I should admit that it would be tiring to accompany her to go shopping.
I understood through this research that one’s dressing practice and fashion subjectivity is shaped by the intersectionality and interplay among different subject positions. A subject position can be understood “in terms of the empty spaces or functions in discourse from which the world makes sense”. Some common subject positions are race, nationality, class, gender, sexuality, age, and so forth. What one wears often represents the intersectionality between these subject positions in his or her subject formation. When I asked her “Do you think what you wear is the most important for you?” she answered that, “I think the most important thing for me, when it comes to dressing, regardless of what kinds of clothes I wear, should represent my unique taste. I pay particular attention to what I wear on a daily basis. I think what I wear to represent my personality. What we wear is often the most important way to leave a good impression on us”. When it comes to the major factors affecting her dressing practice, she argues that she prefers to express her feelings and state of mind through the dressing. When she is feeling moody, she tends to put on less colorful clothes with less adornment; on the contrary, when she is feeling happier, she tends to put on more colorful clothes and accessories. She also indicates that she personally appreciates and likes the fashion styles by designers such as Renli Su, Casey, and Yohji Yamamoto. In addition, she indicates that because she is still a student, she does not want to dress too many flashy and expensive clothes. Because she is still financially dependent on her parents, it is more likely for her to select and purchase clothes and accessories from those fast-fashion brands, but she also sometimes selects and purchases clothes and accessories from those luxury brands. Oftentimes, she would beg her father to send additional money for her.
It can be seen from this interview that the subject positions that affect her dressing practice and fashion subjectivity is her occupation, gender, class, age, and place. A powerful subject position influencing her dressing practice and fashion subjectivity is her identity as a student. As a student, her primary task is to study at school rather than showing off her body, sexuality, and wealth. Accordingly, what she wears on a daily practice especially at school tends to be more ordinary and less flashy. So when attending class in class, she is more inclined toward wearing clothes of cool colors such as black and brown. Gender and age are also important subject positions influencing her dressing practice and fashion subjectivity. This is why she prefers dressing styles that are more lovely and adorable. She has a special attachment to the Japanese design styles. As a woman, she spends a lot of time in selecting and matching clothes. This may be rarely done by men and women of elder ages. Furthermore, the place is an important subject position influencing her dressing practice and fashion subjectivity. She chooses to wear different types of clothes when it comes to different occasions. She mentions that she normally spends little time in putting make-up when attending class at school. But she likes putting make-up in other public activities.
Her wardrobe is a large, pink wardrobe. The color pink is generally believed to fit in with one of her subject position as a woman because the color pink is a color more preferable to women. Just like the wardrobes of many other women, there were also a lot of clothes in her wardrobes. The clothes of different categories were categorized based on their colors and length. The underwear, pants, and skirts were hanged with a lot of hangers. Her wardrobe was really orderly which made me shameful because my own wardrobe is less orderly so that it was often difficult for me to find what I wanted. She thought that her wardrobe also reflects her personal identity because when people visit her and her room, it makes her easier for her to show these items to them. What left me with the greatest impression was that there were a lot of pairs of stockings in at least three drawers. She said that her last gift from her grandmother who has passed away many years ago was precisely stockings; her grandmother loved her a lot. She could not explain why she had a special attachment with stockings; she thought that it was probably due to her special attachment with her grandmother. It shows that for many of our personal possessions, there are often many stories behind them.
Questions for my interview
1. Do you think what you wear is important for you?
2. How do you decide what to wear on a daily basis?
3. What are the major factors affecting your dressing practices?
4. What is your favorite dressing style?
5. What kinds of clothes do you wear more often?
6. Before you get ready in the morning to go outside, what do you usually do? (E.g. makeup, picking up and matching clothes)?
7. What kinds of things do you prefer to put in your wardrobe? Are they important to you?
8. How do you organize your wardrobe?
9. What is the most important item in your wardrobe?
10. How often do you organize your wardrobe? And why?
Barker, Chris. The Sage Dictionary of Cultural Studies. Sage, London, 2004.
Kaiser, Susan B. Fashion and Cultural Studies. Berg Publishing, London and New York 2012.