Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Claudio Benzecry, Kim Price-Glynn

Field of Study



Master of Arts

Open Access

Campus Access


Clothing, one of the most visible forms of consumption, performs a major role in the process of identity construction and in many ways acts as a filter between our private and social worlds (Bourdieu, 1994; Crane, 2000; Crane and Bovone, 2006). Since all cultures dress the body in some form, through avenues such as clothing and tattooing, dress stands as a basic fact of social life (Entwistle, 2001). For Black Americans, self presentation and the dressing of the body has remained an important aspect of the Black experience and the performance of identity (Miller, 2009; Peiss, 1998; Walker, 2007). In the Black community self styling takes on a number of forms with certain types of dress communicating ideas of self respect, community pride, and cultural appreciation (Miller, 2009, White and White, 1998). In this study, I analyze how Black middle class women use clothing as a way to communicate ideas of class legitimacy, professionalism, and morality. In particular, I examine how clothing items, through a process of “threaded bougieness” are used by these women in order to create boundaries, shape identities, and garner respect in three areas of public life: during church services, in the workplace, and while attending college. This study suggests that a “threaded bougieness” is one such resource in the Black middle class toolkit (Lacy, 2007; Swindler, 1986) that Black women draw upon in order to lessen the occurrence of discrimination, erect class boundaries, and negotiate facets of their identities. This research informs theoretical debates on the consumption practices of Black Americans (Patillo-McCoy, 2000; Lamont and Molnar, 2001) and emerging literature on the divergent lifestyle preferences that exist between the Black middle and working classes, respectively (Lacy, 2007; Patillo-McCoy, 2000; Patillo, 2008).

Major Advisor

Davita Silfen-Glasberg