Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Deidre Hill Butler


Fashion, Clothing, Gender, Sexuality, Socialization, Feminist, Masculinity, Femininity, Culture


Clothing is a social product, carries social meanings, and modifies social interaction, thus making it into the system of symbols known as fashion. This thesis focuses on fashion as a social agent, with its artistic expression and continual reorganization of styles. I question if fashion has the power to exact social change, or whether it simply reinforces and reproduces social inequality. The thesis looks at how race, class, sexual orientation, and ethnicity are both articulated and challenged through gendered fashion. We will examine the relationship between fashion, clothing, the body and body image, how fashion is a system that can discipline or exert power over others and also construct the self. The role of Fashion in the media will also be discussed in regard to self-dissatisfaction, judgment, and perpetuation of gendered stereotypes. Through content analysis examples, this thesis examines various fashion experiences, looking for the social and political forces behind the experience of clothing. We will also use fashion as a means of exploring various sociological theories, including Roland Barthes's theory of fashion as a social code, Erving Goffman and Herbert Blumer’s theories of symbolic interactionism, Max Weber’s theories regarding class and society, and Georg Simmel’s theories on fashion as a means of conformity. I argue that through the formal and informal socialization of society, gender performance is exhibited through fashion.