(Re)Fashioning Masculinity: Social Identity and Context in Men’s Hybrid Masculinities through Dress

by Ben Barry


Modern Western society has framed fashion in opposition to hegemonic masculinity. However, fashion functions as a principal means by which men’s visible gender identities are established as not only different from women but also from other men. This article draws on the concept of hybrid masculinities and on wardrobe interviews with Canadian men across social identities to explore how men enact masculinities through dress. Ben Barry illustrates three ways men do hybrid masculinities by selecting, styling, and wearing clothing in their everyday lives. The differences between these three hybrid masculine configurations of practice are based on the extent to which men’s personal and professional social identities were associated with hegemonic masculine ideals as well as the extent to which those ideals shaped the settings in which they were situated. Although participants had different constellations of gender privilege, they all used dress to reinforce hegemonic masculinity, gain social advantages, and subsequently preserve the gender order. Failing to do so could put them personally and professionally at risk. Ben Barry’s research nuances the hybrid masculinities framework by demonstrating how its enactment is shaped by the intersection between men’s social identities and social contexts.

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