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Do The Clothes Really Make The Person? New Book ‘Dress Codes’ Explores How Law, Society And History Have Fashioned Our Fashion Sense

Pachuco style suits known as "Zoot Suit" are photographed in a house of a Pachuco in Tepito neighborhood in Mexico City on August 22, 2017. 
Wearing their feathered hats, colorful tank tops, gold chains on the lapel and patent leather shoes, the Pachucos - the subculture that characterized Mexican gangs set up in the United States in the 1940s - continue to dance to the rhythm of legendary mambo Salons in Mexico. / AFP PHOTO / YURI CORTEZ / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by YEMELI ORTEGA        (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP via Getty Images)
AFP Contributor/AFP via Getty Images
Pachuco style suits known as "Zoot Suit" are photographed in a house of a Pachuco in Tepito neighborhood in Mexico City on August 22, 2017.

NFL Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders, who was known during his playing days for his flashy attire, among other things, famously coined the phrase “If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good. If you play good, they pay good.”

NFL Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders, who was known during his playing days for his flashy attire, among other things, famously coined the phrase “If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good. If you play good, they pay good.” And while it would be easy to just attribute this to Primetime being Primetime, there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that fashion and the way we dress not only impacts how we feel, but how the rest of the world sees and reacts.

In his new book, “Dress Codes: How The Laws of Fashion Made History,” Stanford University law professor Richard Ford Thompson says he looks at how the law, society, and workplace customs affect what we wear and why we give meaning to what we wear -- from the rise of the business suit for both men and women went to the more relaxed hoodies-and-jeans outfit that Silicon Valley tech workers have popularized, the book chronicles the history of workplace clothing and the norms and expectations surrounding it. But Thompson dives even deeper, exploring fashion’s relationship to race, politics, social class and religion, and the ways in which they contradict each other.

Today on AirTalk, Richard Ford Thompson joins Larry Mantle to talk about his new book. Have questions or thoughts to share with Professor Thompson? Join the conversation by calling us at 866-893-5722.

Guest:

Richard Thompson Ford, author of “Dress Codes: How the Laws of Fashion Made History” (Simon & Schuster, February 2021); he is a professor of law at Stanford University

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