Following the Berg Fashion Library bibliographic article on aesthetics from Marilyn DeLong, author of The Way We Look: Dress and Aesthetics, this lesson plan is split into three major sections with smaller divisions for discussion topics and assignments: “Foundational Concepts,” “Dress and the Body,” and “Cultures and Subcultures of Beauty.”
“Part 1: Foundational Concepts” introduces the concepts of aesthetics, beauty, dress, costume, fashion, and the principles of design (color, lines, path of gaze, and so on). Lectures, active learning, and in-class discussions are critical for building a shared vocabulary.
In “Part 2: Dress and the Body,” as per Joanne Eicher’s definition, dress incorporates all five senses and all objects and activities that are meant to supplement or modify the human body; not just clothing, but also modifications such as hairstyles, dentistry, and cosmetic surgery. Aesthetics of the body, such as skin color and texture, eye color, skeletal structure, and signs of health or illness, should also be considered as part of the overall aesthetic of dress and the body, whether or not they have been intentionally modified.
“Part 3: Cultures and Subcultures of Beauty” should further complicate students’ understanding of “beauty” by exposing them to the values of other cultures and subcultures. The lesson plan has suggestions, but these could be tailored to the instructor’s or students’ specific interests.
The unit is relevant for courses in Art History, Cultural Studies, and Fashion History.
Part 1: Foundational Concepts
Lesson 1: Defining Aesthetics
Lesson 2: Principles of Visual Design
Lesson 3: Defining Dress, Costume, and Fashion
Part 2: Dress and the Body
Lesson 4: Beyond the Visual
Lesson 5: Standards and Ideals of the Human Body
Lesson 6: Cosmetic Surgery and Medical Ethics
Lesson 7: Analyzing Resources
Part 3: Cultures and Subcultures of Beauty
Lesson 8: Cosplay and Competitive Cheerleading
Lesson 9: Drag Queens in South Africa and Irish Travelers
Lesson 10: Social Classes as Subcultures
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