Date of this Version
Haltom, Trenton M. 2016. Book Review: Buttoned Up: Clothing, Conformity, and White-Collar Masculinity, by Erynn Masi De Casanova. Culture, Society, & Masculinities 8(1):91–92.
Erynn Masi de Casanova’s Buttoned Up: Clothing, Conformity, and White-Collar Masculinity (2015) draws on white-collar men’s discussion of their fashion choices to shed light on how masculinity, work-type, class, race, and geographic region shape their styles ofdress. Each chapter highlights a piece of what goes on in men’s heads as they dress for work: workplace dress codes (both official and unofficial), family inspiration, for whom they dress, and the pitfalls of being too fashionable or not trendy enough. In addition to what to wear, Casanova also explores what not to wear in a white-collar professional work setting. The current dearth of research on the topic of men’s bodies and fashion leads to a dialogue that is both insightful and thought provoking. Readers will enjoy not only well-done sociological research, but also moments of nostalgia for the fashions of our fathers, grandfathers, brothers, and uncles.
Buttoned Up evokes sociological thought through considerations of the embodiment of gender, social constructions of dress style, and differences across age, region, or workplace. The book reads like a well-rounded documentary on white-collar dress: delving into histories, uncovering biographies, exploring workplace habitats, pondering symbolic meanings, and comparing geographies. Sociological theorists including Simmel, Mills, and Bourdieu are brilliantly woven into the subject of men’s dress with their writings on fashion, white-collar workers, and habitus, respectively. Scholars can make use of this book in a myriad of interdisciplinary courses on fashion and identity formation, the body, gender, and masculinities.