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Contradictory Woolf$
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Derek Ryan and Stella Bolaki

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780983533955

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9780983533955.001.0001

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But Woolf was a Sophisticated Observer of Fashion…

But Woolf was a Sophisticated Observer of Fashion…

Virginia Woolf, Clothing and Contradiction

(p.129) But Woolf was a Sophisticated Observer of Fashion…
Contradictory Woolf

Claire Nicholson

Liverpool University Press

This chapter explores Virginia Woolf's relationship to clothing and fashion, focusing in particular on ambivalence and contradiction in her perception of dress. Woolf's deployment of clothing in her fiction has drawn the attention of critics such as Lisa Cohen, Randi Koppen, and Jane Garrity. For Woolf's characters, clothes can act as vehicles for self-construction, as signifiers of cultural resistance, and as a means of contemplating the boundary between the self and the other. The chapter also analyzes Woolf's sartorial observations in the novel Mrs Dalloway (1925) and related short stories. It then places these fictional fashion choices in context with Woolf's own sartorial experiences during the period in which she expressed strong interest in clothing and which saw a marked evolution in clothing styles, the decade from the early 1920s to 1930s. It suggests that Woolf knew how to indulge in sartorial pleasure, in fabric, as well as in fiction.

Keywords:   fashion, clothing, dress, ambivalence, contradiction, fiction, Mrs Dalloway, sartorial pleasure, fabric

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