The discourse of dress and appearance: Identity talk and a rhetoric of review

Scott A. Hunt, Kimberly A. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


This article examines how identities are constructed and maintained via talk about personal dress and appearance. In this article, we introduce the concept of rhetoric of review, which is defined as the taken-for-granted rules that guide the evaluations of the appearances of self and others. Three basic components of a rhetoric of review are identified: moral precepts, program neutralizations, and review neutralizations. Data were derived from eight in-depth interviews with eighteen sorority members from a single university in the Southeastern United States. These data were used to expand Stone's (1962) conceptual framework of program and review by including Sykes and Matza's (1957) neutralization techniques. The purpose of this article is to bridge the interactionist perspectives on appearance and identity talk so as to augment our understanding of the discourse of appearance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-82
Number of pages14
JournalSymbolic Interaction
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


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