Why We Are What We Wear

By Paul Fussell
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780618067466, 224pp.)

Publication Date: November 2002

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback

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From Boy Scouts to soldiers, nurses to UPS workers, chefs to nuns, Paul Fussell describes, in sharp and telling anecdotes, the history and meanings of various uniforms. He reveals their secret language and unfolds their cultural significance. Focusing on the American scene, he holds up a mirror to the folks who head off to work each morning in regulated clothing and charts the fault lines of the desire for conformity and individuality. In examining the way uniforms unite and divide us, he ranges over the globe, describing, among other things, the Russian love of shoulder boards, the German obsession with black, and the Italian enthusiasm for feathered military hats. According to Fussell, we are what we wear, and sometimes our get-ups say surprising things.
Uniforms is vintage Fussell — a blend of vinegar and grace, of keen cultural insight and hilarious wit, equal parts spoof and illuminating social analysis.

About the Author

Paul Fussell is the author of, among other works, Class and The Great War and Modern Memory, which won both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award and was named by the Modern Library as one of the twentieth century's one hundred best nonfiction books. He lives in Philadelphia.

Praise For Uniforms

"Full of pugnacious observations and intellectual insights . . . Paul Fussell is back, and he's feisty as ever." --Rebecca Denton Bookpage

"Fussell's funny, touching insights spring from an unmistakable compassion for people's need to feel 'the comfort and vanity of belonging.'" Publishers Weekly

"I love a man in uniform! . . . Fussell embroiders on why we are what we wear." --Elissa Schappell Vanity Fair

"Fussell turns his sharp eye and even sharper wit to the standardized dress..." --Time Out New York

"...very smart, very funny..." --Malcolm Jones Newsweek

"Perfect holiday gift for anyone who wears clothes -- and one size fits all." --James A Butler The Philadelphia Inquirer

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