Reflexive Dressing: Rethinking Retro

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Stella North


This article undertakes a philosophical exploration of the act we know, or think we know, as ‘dressing’. Inhabiting, in thought, the moment in which we dress, I examine some of its constituent mechanisms, attending to the impulses by which dressing is generated out of subjective experience.  When those impulses are temporally marked, as they are in the case of retro dress, this generation is a two-pronged process, in which the holding of the body in time, and the holding of time in the body, recalibrate one another. The process of ‘dressing,’ in this understanding, has a reflexivity which is double; it entails the turning of the body, with dress as medium, towards itself, and the turning of present experience towards some felt notion of the past. Reflexively dressing, we are always becoming ourselves, and becoming other than ourselves, at once; a movement of circuitous internalisation and externalisation by which the ambiguation inherent in material experience is realised.



Article Details

Dressing the Body (Peer Reviewed)
Author Biography

Stella North, Independent Scholar

Stella North is an independent scholar of gender and cultural studies, a discipline in which she holds a PhD from the University of Sydney. Her overarching interest in fashion and embodiment has led to her current interest in visual-cultural manifestations of nostalgia, a focus she combines with other research interests, including twentieth-century literature, feminist theory and psychoanalysis.