The Perks of Playing Dress-up: Psychological Impressions of Fashion and Feminism


Linda Baker

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Capstone Project

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Michael Karson

Second Advisor

Kim Gorgens

Third Advisor

Jennifer Gafford Daugherty


Fashion, Qualitative research, Behavior CBT, Gender performance, Schemas, Cognitive behavioral therapy, Feminism, Women


Research on the psychological impact of women's fashion has focused on fashion's negative influence over how women think and feel about themselves. Several studies have examined the relationship between fashion and women's self-appraisals (Martin & Gentry, 1997; Pinhas, Toner, Ali, Garfinkel, & Stuckless, 1999; Tiggemann, Polivy, & Hargreaves, 2009), although few investigations have explored the range of viewpoints that arise when women interact with their own personal style or with other forms of fashion media. This paper presents a narrative review of what has been written about fashion in clinical research. I briefly discuss why this is an important topic and why fashion has psychological meaning. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is considered in the exploration of fashion's impact on conjuring unproductive and productive schemas (Beck, 1976; Wright, Basco, & Thase, 2006). This discussion includes a presentation of interviews with female consultants, hypothetical examples, my own accounts, and feminist perspectives. While emphasizing the potential biases of women's interactions with fashion, I discuss matters of gender performance and reflections on clinical work. The purpose of this article is to present a pro-social defense of fashion. I do this by acquiring personal chronicles, applying those findings to the current body of research, and adding to the continued investigation of why women's fashion is still important in a postfeminist world.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


39 pages

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