Deirdre Clemente

Associate Director, Public History program
Expertise: 20th century American Culture, Fashion and clothing, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Museum studies


Deirdre Clemente is a historian and curator of 20th century American culture, specializing in fashion and clothing. She is an expert in the use of fashion in the work of F. Scott Fitzgerald and served as a historical consultant for costume in Baz Luhrmann's film, The Great Gatsby.

Clemente is the associate director of the UNLV public history program. She holds a master of arts degree in Museum Studies from the Fashion Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in history from Carnegie Mellon. Her research on the intersection of clothing and social change has been published in the Journal of Social History, New England Quarterly, Journal of American Culture, and others. Her book Dress Casual: How College Kids Redefined American Style was published in spring 2014 from UNC Press. The book explores how and why collegians pioneered the adoption of casual dress – one of the most pervasive cultural shifts of the 20th century. Clemente is currently working on her second book titled, Chic Streets: Urban Development, Shopping, and the American Fashion Industry which considers the evolution of New York's Fifth Avenue, Beverly Hills' Rodeo Drive and Miami Beach's Lincoln road as places where American clothing was made and marketed.

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Deirdre Clemente In The News

Take a peek around your next Halloween party, and you’re bound to find at least one person sporting a Playboy Bunny costume. The uniform of the waitresses at the Playboy Club, the chain of nightclubs founded by Hugh Hefner that began with the Chicago club in 1960, has become a staple of the Halloween scene. And stars like Kylie Jenner and Bella Thorne have sported the look in recent years — even as Playboy, and the late Hefner, have come under intense scrutiny.
Zing News
Party dresses are coming back after a long time of being forgotten. The dress model appeared a lot on the fashion catwalk.
Marie Claire
Where we used to wear tight bodycon dresses, there has been another dress that predominates for the past four years: the prairie dress or milkmaid dress. With its ruffled hem, fluttering sleeves and modest ankle length, it has become a firm favorite . Still, the dress is causing quite a stir these days, but is that justified?
The Zoe Report
You’ve read the headline before: The Roaring Twenties Are Back! The topic of the 1920s versus the 2020s has felt fairly ubiquitous since the world began creeping out of lockdown, with comparisons made by analysts, historians, and writers alike. Meanwhile, literal 1920s fashion trends trickled down to runway collections by way of opulent embellishments and nostalgic dress silhouettes. But beaded fringe and fluffy feathers aren’t the whole of it. “Clothing springs from the culture, and both the ‘20s and present day [are times of] recovering from trauma,” historian and curator Deirdre Clemente tells TZR. She’s a self-proclaimed “crazy Fitzgerald fan" and even served as a historical consultant for costume in Baz Luhrmann's 2013 remake of The Great Gatsby. “I think the parallel is a cultural one. You can’t overstate the role of the war on the 1920s and right now, the country is also in a state of trauma [while] trying to recover from the pandemic.”

Articles Featuring Deirdre Clemente

UNLV cheerleaders during 2022 homecoming
Campus News | November 8, 2022

A collection of news stories highlighting UNLV students and faculty who made headlines locally, regionally, and internationally.

The sun breaks over a ranch house
Research | October 17, 2022

The Walking Box Ranch is a direct link to the world of 1930s Hollywood glamor and a vital resource for UNLV's students of historic preservation.

UNLV Football players entering Allegiant Stadium
Campus News | May 2, 2022

A collection of news stories highlighting the experts and student changemakers at UNLV.