What’s your inspiration for the way you dress and groom yourself? What does your clothing reveal about who you are or who you aspire to be? What would you never wear, and why not?
The Will to Adorn research project investigates the connections between dress and the diverse cultural identities of African Americans. The project looks at everyday dressing as an expression of creativity and heritage. The Will to Adorn app, a free download for iOS, allows you to share your stories about your personal dressing and to listen to the three-minute stories shared by other users. The app will eventually be available on Android devices as well.
We partnered with four Smithsonian Affiliate museums and cultural centers around the country, encouraging staff and youth interns to document dress in their cities. They created programs, exhibitions, digital collections, and social media streams to share their research. Visit the Museum of the African Diaspora online to see the work done by their student curatorial team.
Diana Baird N’Diaye is a curator at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and the principal investigator for the Will to Adorn project.
The project was made possible by funding from the Office of the Smithsonian’s Assistant Secretary for Education and Access and collaborations with Smithsonian Affiliations and Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access.