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Fashion and fandom on TV and social media: Claire Underwood’s power dressing

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This article seeks to discuss the relation between TV series characters, fashion and fandom through social media. It focuses on a specific kind of TV series, quality dramas, and in particular Netflix’s House of Cards (Netflix, 2013–). This series is a model example of the way clothing is a key factor that elicits audience engagement: the fashion universe of the female protagonist, Claire Underwood, is clearly included in the story, contributing to the definition of both the environment and the character. The relevance of style, outfits, clothes and fashion accessories is underlined by several online fandom interactions: audiences talk daily about how particular characters dress or act, check and share information and images about outfits and brands and buy online the products seen on TV. Audience members build and negotiate their gender identity through a performative self-representation, using (buying and wearing) fashion-symbolic materials provided by TV. These practices, now enabled by the social TV phenomenon, allow audiences to engage with the contents in a sort of expanded TV experience, which is the focus of this article. In particular, the aim of the article is to explore the process of fashion appropriation and reworking enacted by the audience with respect to Claire Underwood’s power dressing and to provide evidence as to how TV shows can offer diverse fashion experiences by which individuals can be inspired in representing the self.
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Keywords: TV series; consumption; fandom; fashion; identity; social TV; social media

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Sapienza University of Rome

Publication date: December 1, 2015

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  • Critical Studies in Fashion and Beauty is the first journal dedicated to the critical examination of the fashion and the beauty systems as symbolic spaces of production and reproduction, representation and communication of artifacts, meanings, social practices, and visual or textual renditions of cloth, clothing and appearance.

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