Remembering My Hat

22nd October 2013

(a)Dressing the Ageing Demographic seminar: Part 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — rememberingmyhat @ 18:17

More notes from a seminar. Part 1 here.

Jenny Hockey

The temporal landscape of shoes: Ageing, identity and footwear

Footwear can show something about chronological age and linearity of life course, but can also be disrupted and subverted.

Taking a longer life course perspective on shoes – earlier identities can be released or revisited, future age-based identities can be accelerated or deferred.

Data presenting today mainly from women, but did also talk to men.

–        Linearity of life course can be disrupted when earlier identity is revisited

–        Future time deferred – comfy shoes avoided because they would make you look old

–        Past released – freedom from painful shoes now you are older

–        Past appropriated as resource – vintage, hand-me-down shoes

Respondents alert to age-meanings of their shoes.

Stronger ethical theme in data than expected – people worrying about buying too many shoes. Also vintage / hand-me-down shoes as ethical choice.

Shoes can be a ‘prosthetic’ of the self [more so than all clothes? I suppose they are a bit more functional than a jumper]

(cc) Ed Schipul



Me: what’s specific about shoes? Lots of this could be applied to all clothing.

JH: Symbolically particularly loaded. Actors say that you need to get the shoes and feet right and then the character follows. Feet don’t change with age as much as other parts of body.

Someone: larger size woman, lost weight, could wear different shoes because of comfort. Herself after hip op could wear heels again. Embodied aspects of choice.


Christina Buse

The Way we Wear: Implications of clothing and dress for people with dementia

Clothes can still be important for people with dementia  – maintaining identity at an embodied level

Why dementia and dress? Fashion, frivolity and fun – not much to do with dementia

Less ability to dress independently with dementia

–        But clothing significant to social identity

–        Embodied selfhood (Kontos, 2004, 2006)

–        Significant in reminiscence therapies (Schweitzer, Bruce and Gibson, 2008)

This study 3 Kent care homes, 15 domestic settings

28 care home workers, 29 family carers and relatives, 32 PWD, Clothing companies (work ongoing)

Clothes as memory and biographical objects (Ash, 1996, Hoskins 1998)Quite a lot of tatty old clothes kept because of memories /symbolic meanings.

Moving into care homes changes relationship to clothes [less storage for clothes, often?]. Many people got rid of lots of clothes when moved into care but held on to smaller items like handbags, jewellery. Someone who keeps hairdressing scissors and kit in her handbag because she *is* a hairdresser. Clothing is site for performance of identity. Also form of social diffentiation.

Are PWD still interested in  / able to express identity through dress?

Yes, especially in earlier to mid stages of dementia when can still express themselves fairly clearly [altho could still be important in later stages but people can’t express it]

Women describing themselves as a skirts person or a trousers person. Men expressing lack of interest in fashion. Women identifying themselves as ‘plain Janes’ (being respectable important, especially for working class women) or ‘glamour girls’

(cc) crafty_dame

But disjuncture: Care workers talked about PWD not wanting to change their clothes, wearing dirty clothes. PWD talked about dressing for occasion but didn’t actually do this, just put on same clothes as day before.

Relatives curating identity (Crichton and Koch, 2007) – maintaining their past identity when they no longer could. Clothes as one way of doing this. Family carers upset if PWD in care home not dressed in ways they saw as typical / their style.

Care workers recognise commenting postiviely on PWD’s appearance as important and beneficial to them.

PWadvancedD often respond to feel of fabric, especially velvet, silk, fur – people can’t nec name colours any more but can appreciate texture.

Tights partic difficult to get onto someone else. Underwear difficult esp bras. Incontinence pads require larger clothes. Things need to be washable at high temperatures.

Jogging bottoms for men seen as ideal clothing for men with dementia – easy to get on and off, comfy, wash at high temps. But many men of this generation always wore proper trousers. Also fly-fronted trousers significant signifier of adult masculinity – [infantalising, like Posy Simmons cartoon]

Women wearing skirts, but these ride-up and reveal parts of body that ‘should’ be covered. Homes encourage wearing trousers, to protect dignity, but this may be very alien to some women.

Potential for design solutions. One person had replaced buttons on man’s shirt with Velcro, so could be more independent. But this can be more confusing – PWD is naturally expecting buttons on a shirt

Specialist clothing can be stigmatising.


Moment of having to start wearing tracksuits bottoms, v significant to men as source of shame.

Jogging bottoms as backstage clothes. Are care homes public or private space? They are at the boundaries.

CB: women carrying handbags, suggests felt was a public space. [suggests to me Lee-Treweek’s work on bedrooms as backstage, lounges as frontstage]




  1. […] Notes from a seminar. Part 1 here and part 2 here. […]

    Pingback by (a)Dressing the Ageing Demographic seminar: Part 3 | Remembering My Hat — 22nd October 2013 @ 18:26 | Reply

  2. […] extensive notes from a seminar. I did say it was a really good day! Part 1 here, Part 2 here and Part 3 […]

    Pingback by (a)Dressing the Ageing Demographic seminar: Part 4 | Remembering My Hat — 23rd October 2013 @ 10:47 | Reply

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