Jasper, C.R. and M.E. Roach-Higgins. 1988/1995. “Role Conflict and Conformity in Dress.”

Jasper, Cynthia R. and Mary Ellen Roach-Higgins. 1995. “Role Conflict and Conformity in Dress.” Pp.  139-146 in Dress and Identity, edited by Mary Ellen Roach-Higgins, Joanne B. Eicher, and Kim K.P. Johnson. New York: Fairchild Publications.

Originally printed as: Jasper, Cynthia R. and Mary Ellen Roach-Higgins. 1988. “Role Conflict and Conformity in Dress.” Social Behavior and Personality 16 (2): 227-240.

Dress as linked to the enactment of roles (Bush and London 1960, Goffman 1959, Joseph 1986, Sarben and Allen 1968, Stone 1962) – along with other visible behaviors (gestures, verbal exchanges/utterances, etc.) = helps to define behavioral expectations  and role within larger social structure – enactment of roles takes place within interactions with others, and is assessed by both individual and others observing. “If the type of dress and individual wears coincides with expectations for dress held by others in a specific social situation, it can facilitate interaction. Conversely, if the type of dress is contrary to expectations it can hinder, or even terminate, interaction” (here 140-141, see also Stone 1962). Dress expectations are both normative and evaluative – normative: dressing in ways expected; evaluative: how well dressed person meets held expectations for their dress/role.   Conforming to dress/expectations seems to come along with the adoption/identification with a particular role; even if role is not particularly salient, some will conform to prevent disruptive interactions with others.


Bush, G. and P. London. 1960. “On the Disappearance of Knickers: Hypotheses for the Functional Analysis of the Psychology of Clothing.” Journal of Social Psychology 51: 359-366.

Goffman, Erving. 1959. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York: Doubleday.

Joseph, N. 1986. Uniforms and Nonuniforms: Communication through Clothing. New York: Greenwood Press.

Sarben, T.R. and V.L. Allen. 1968. “Role Theory.” Pp. 488-567 in The Handbook of Social Psychology (Vol. 1, 2nd ed.), edited by NAME CHECK Gardener, Lindsey, and Elliot Aronson. Reading: Addison-Wesley Publishing.

Stone, G.P. 1962. “Appearance and the Self.” Pp. 86-118 in Human Behavior and the Social Processes, edited by A. M. Rose. New York: Houghton Mifflin.


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