Vestimentary Semiotics

Beyond the visual aspects of vestimentary signs (clothing, outfit, fashion) specific aspects are linked to the human body such as: covering/protecting/hiding versus uncovering/sexual appeal/hygiene/exposition to air and sun. Clothes can also be experienced via the senses of touch, weight and temperature. Moreover they presuppose specific technologies like: the preparation of furs, sewing, harvesting of specific plants, weaving etc. In some contexts they gain political and religious meanings and values as public markers of power or obedience. Therefore vestimentary semiotics touches on questions of medicine (hygiene, body culture), religion and politics. The latter may be exemplified by the current debate on Muslim head shawls (cf. the doctoral dissertation by Reyhan Sahin, 2011 in preparation). As the covering of the human body is a very old practice vestimentary semiotics also concerns evolutionary semiotics and cultural dynamics in sign usage (cf. Bax, van Heusden and Wildgen, 2004 and Wildgen 2010a).