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Dressed to the Nineties: Fashion, Creativity and Old Age

Almila, Anna-Mari and Zeilig, Hannah (2016) Dressed to the Nineties: Fashion, Creativity and Old Age. In: Arts and Creativity, 8-10 September 2016, Porto.

Type of Research: Conference, Symposium or Workshop Item
Creators: Almila, Anna-Mari and Zeilig, Hannah

The everyday forms of creativity that older women engage in in terms of dress, clothing and fashion are largely ignored by contemporary scholarship. Older women’s fashion practices constitute a blind spot for both literature on aging and creativity, as well as for fashion studies. When scholars of ageing and creativity consider creative activities amongst older groups of people, they tend to focus on individuals who can be conventionally defined as ‘creative’, such as artists, musicians and actors. This focus relies on orthodox understandings of creativity as the sole possession of special kinds of individuals who have specific sorts of talents, a romanticised idea which the sociology of art and culture has critiqued. Notions of creativity are never neutral but are bound up with forms of social power in various ways, therefore the study of creativity in ageing must acknowledge these issues.

In critical sociology, creativity is not the sole preserve of special individuals, rather it is understood more democratically as something that is to be found amongst all people, in all sectors of society. According to this view, all of social life involves creative practices, and all individuals, regardless of their social status, must be understood as possessing creative potentials and capacities, which take diverse forms. Drawing on this perspective, fashion studies have emphasised the creative clothing choices and practices of younger women and men, demonstrating how even those in apparently subordinate social positions can nonetheless be creative in how their dress identities. Yet so far such studies have largely failed to engage with forms of clothing creativity amongst older women or men.

In essence, then, this paper this paper explores creativity in old age in terms of the clothing practices of older women. In this way, our work challenges the conventional association of fashion with youth and also the idea that creativity is restricted to certain ‘types’ of people and specific fields of art. We explore these topics through a discussion of individual case studies of fashion-driven older women. Their creative dress practices, and the pleasure and additional value they create and experience through such activities, form the empirical material through which we discuss the more theoretical considerations outlined above. The paper will stimulate discussions concerning how analysing older non-elite women’s creative fashion and clothing activities can offer new fruitful perspectives for considering late life creativity.

Official Website: https://esa-arts2016.eventqualia.net/en/2016/home/
Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed: old age, fashion, everyday dress
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Fashion
Date: 9 September 2016
Event Location: Porto
Date Deposited: 02 Feb 2017 13:07
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2017 13:07
Item ID: 10710
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/10710

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