ABSTRACT

In American fashion magazines in the 1930s, images and descriptions of white women taking on the clothes of non-white women abound: burnouse cloaks, coolie caps, sombreros, turbans, and saris all make frequent appearances. This paper will explore the ways these fashions are given meaning for readers in Vogue and Harper's Bazaar so that we can understand how these Orientalist and Primitivist fashions were used to construct their wearers' modern white femininity. The fashionable white woman was rendered modern through her infinite malleability—she can reshape her appearance with clothing, jewelry, makeup, diet and exercise—while the “other” is primitive, eternally wearing that same traditional clothing. This paper will consider the specific cases of the branding of the Bali bra, the sari, as well as “coolie” coats and hats.

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