Clothing Resource Guide

The way we dress – both our clothing and other adornments such as jewellery – can be a powerful communicator of personal style and beliefs while adhering to cultural and societal norms. By understanding the motivations that inform the way people dress, we can avoid making assumptions based on appearance in our everyday encounters. This module encourages discussion about different modes of dress based on gender, religion, profession and climate.

In the featured videos, participants speak about how their manner of dressing has been affected by moving to Canada. They discuss the importance of traditional dress, whether for everyday wear or special occasions, and its cultural significance. They also share how they have adjusted what they wear to the climate, regulations and the local customs and styles.

The videos also provide an historical overview of world clothing traditions. We hear about how Western styles of dress have replaced the everyday wear of sari and salwar kameez in South Asia, and learn about the important role of the uniform in Communist Eastern Europe.
We are introduced to Canadian fashion and jewellery designers who are bringing together design elements from cultures from both the East and the West. We are also brought to question the rise of clothing manufacture in China and the resonance ‘Made in China’ labels with one of the interviewees who has Chinese roots.

Discussion Questions

  1. As a newcomer, do any of the stories featured in this module resonate with your own experience? Why or why not? Have you had to make any changes in what you wear since coming to Canada?
  2. Share an item of clothing particular to your culture. Who made it? What is the significance of the decoration?
  3. Look at the labels on your clothes. Map the places noted on the labels. Do you notice a pattern? Why is this the case?
  4. Discuss how clothing and some types of adornment affect group dynamics, group cohesion and acceptance by the group. Think about clothing’s effect on body language, behavior, grooming, and social etiquette.
  5. Explore the Textile Museum of Canada’s collections database online at Design a garment inspired by at least two objects from the collection that represent different cultures.
  6. Describe the dress code that would be appropriate for a variety of jobs (e.g. farmer, office worker, factory worker) and special occasions (e.g. wedding, funeral, graduation). Do these dress codes change from culture to culture?

Related Links

Garment manufacturing:

Dressing for weather:

Dress for work:

  • Dress for Success: providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.
  • Dress your Best: supplying men with high-quality, professional apparel for job interviews and employment.