Clothes make the Man

In his Philosophy and Its Others (Suny Series in Systematic Philosophy) , William Desmond commends on the self-definition of clothing:

“Clothes are not simply artificial protection against the unruly elements to compensate for bald bodies. They may define a kind of self, may communicate the color of a personal presence. They testify to a self in dialectical mediation with the other who, in fact, the dressed self has imaginatively interiorized. They may even create a kind of self. If one dresses up in certain types of clothes, one finds oneself becoming that type of person.”

Desmond mentions children and actors who “dress up the self in imagination itself,” and also notes that a “transport of selfness into otherness or otherness into selfness can occur also when we assume the uniform of different professions. For clothes are roles, clothes are acts that imply a world. Put on a soldier’s garb, and the self struts tough; shelter the pate with a judge’s wig and how easy it is to thunder verdict; ring the neck with a clerical collar, and the melting devotee all but swoons into piety” (81-82).

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