Pages 79-99 | Published online: 06 Feb 2016

Suitable clothes are clothes that make the body socially accepted. The theme of this article concerns what people with deviant bodies do when suitable clothes are difficult to find; clothes that make their bodies fit in in everyday social contexts. Based on interviews with Norwegian men and women, the focus is on those people who have bodies that deviate from the present Western bodily ideals of thinness, fitness and no deviances. The article relates the interviews to research in two different fields: disability studies and fashion studies. A primary focus is on the relationship between acceptance of one’s own body—“making the best out of it,”—and respondents’ different strategies for coping with the situation. The final discussion addresses the relationship between the clothes market and deviant bodies. Focusing on a group of people with special problems related to clothes might bring forth new knowledge in general. In addition, a change in the status of the market may have positive effects for those already excluded from this market.

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Additional author information

Ingun Grimstad Klepp

Ingun Grimstad Klepp, research professor, has a PhD in ethnology. She wrote her MA and PhD, on use of leisure time and outdoor life, at the University of Oslo. She works at the Consumption Institute, Norway, with clothing, laundry and housework. At present she is working on a project concerning value-chains of wool and slow and local fashion.

Mari Rysst

Mari Rysst, PhD, is a social anthropologist and associate professor at University College Lillehammer, Norway. Until January 2016, she was a senior researcher at The National Institute for Consumer Research in Oslo. Her main research topics are children, youth, gender, fashion, migration, ethnicity and integration.