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Fashioning the Playboy: Messages of Style and Masculinity in the Pages of Playboy Magazine, 1953–1963

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The most popular male magazine in the post-war period was Playboy. Conekin examines how Playboy addressed, and helped to create, a new masculine consumer, especially in relation to clothes and fashion in its first decade. Playboy magazine claimed that it contained the urban, sophisticated, heterosexual man's life. But what it really contained was heterosexual men's fantasies and desires in post-war America. Playboy's fashion pages advocated distinction through attention to detail, offering the possibility of combining conservatism in dress, success at work, and a new and exciting lifestyle in the realm of leisure. Especially in the early years, the reader was assured that if he dressed correctly, his life would be enriched and he would be capable of moving easily up the social ladder. Conekin concludes that Playboy encouraged men in the 1950s and 1960s to charge their normal working lives with “the excitement of the unusual” through a unique, balance combination of risqué images of beautiful women and conservative fashions.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/136270400779108672

Publication date: November 1, 2000

More about this publication?
  • Fashion Theory takes as its starting point a definition of “fashion” as the cultural construction of the embodied identity. The importance of studying the body as a site for the deployment of discourses has been well established in a number of disciplines. Until Fashion Theorys launch in 1997 the dressed body had suffered from a lack of critical analysis. Increasingly scholars have recognized the cultural significance of self-fashioning, including not only clothing but also such body alterations as tattooing and piercing.

    Fashion Theory provides an international and interdisciplinary forum for the rigorous analysis of cultural phenomena. Its peer-reviewed articles range from foot-binding to fashion advertising.
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