It Suits Me

Madalena Gomes Ferreira

Dress codes

Clothing affects what you do, how you feel and how others perceive you. Similarly, the environment and cultures you’re surrounded by affect your clothing. Depending on where you are, you feel as if you’re expected to dress in a specific way, thus fulfilling your role in society.

This project’s initial aim was to challenge the idea of preconceived dress codes, and explore new ways of garment re-construction and re-appropriation. It then evolved into a project focused on written and unwritten dress codes.

These are the dress codes we are told to follow according to what we do, where we go, where we work and others. And the dress codes created subconsciously by us, as a society, through assumptions and associations we create to specific clothing items and their materials, patterns, and others. The materials used can also resonate with quality, price, thus creating further associations with social stance and other social, cultural and economical factors of an individual.

As a complete beginner to sewing and garment making, I started to develop a line of “Suit Socks”, re-using & re-constructing suits and other elements of formalwear to make socks. Rather than become a fashion item, these socks act as a tool for breaking assumptions. They aim to make the user personally confront and question the assumptions they usually make regarding clothing and how these are imposed on us through unwritten dress codes created by society's standards.

A change of situation and context due to Covid-19, meant I had to re-contextualise the socks. Therefore these suit socks became a transition object to aid the interchangeable shift of working from home to actual work again. Due to most people having to work from home, we all adapted our own “Working From Home” dress code or lack of dress code, due to the blurred lines and boundaries between a work and domestic environment.

Still following the “Work From Home” theme, the suit socks were photographed using only cameras that we utilise at home and while working from home, like a computer webcam or phone camera. Furthermore, frames that we are exposed to and operate with while working from home, for example, Zoom Meetings or Skype, were incorporated within the photographs too. The creation of layered photographs, all taken at home, allude to the idea of two different realities combined and overlapped.

I made a zine to then feature these images of the suit socks, accompanied by quotes and some short stories people have shared with me about their Working From Home experiences, as well as some of my own. The last pages of the zine have blank spaces that can be filled in by the sock’s users.

A simple way for people to understand our current culture, fashion and behaviour, is ironically created, through a sock.