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LCF PhD Researcher Profile: Karley Thompson - social and cultural experiences of Black British women

Photograph of Karley Thompson
  • Written byLCF Research
  • Published date01 April 2022
Photograph of Karley Thompson

Continuing our series of PhD spotlight profiles at London College of Fashion, UAL, we spoke to Karley Thompson who is currently in her third year studying part-time for her PhD.

After completing her BA in Fashion Image and Communication in 2017, Karley went on to do her MA at LCF, completing her second degree in 2018. Karley was born in London, but later moved to Surrey when she was 6. Her experiences of moving from a diverse area, to growing up in a predominantly white town have shaped her work.

What is your PhD thesis title?

How far are the social and cultural experiences of black British women (aged 20-35) made visible in their style-fashion-dress choices in the period 2015-2021?

How would you describe a typical week for you?

I am doing my PhD part-time, so alongside my studies, I work full-time. My week involves work Monday-Thursday. Friday is my study day, but I work most mornings and evenings around work, as well as on the weekends. Despite being super busy, I do pole fitness 2-3 times a week. I love exercise - it's the only time I can focus my mind away from my studies!

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

My mum has always said to me 'all you can do is you best'. Studying at this level has its ups and downs and I often question my ability or think I'm not good enough. When I catch myself and pick myself back up, the first thing that comes to mind is all I can do is my best. I apply this to everything (interviews, relationships, any challenge that I face) and I find it really useful. It also helps me to avoid comparing myself to others.

What is your favourite quote?

"Take it easy, grow gently and you'll have a lovely life."

Are there any recent research stories that have inspired you?

Through my research I have learned first-hand the significance of the intangible aspects of dressed appearance. I have read lots of articles, 'Beyond a Surface Gaze: Inscribing the Sensory' (2021) written by Wendy Wilson-Fall is one of many I have enjoyed reading and found inspiring. Making connections between your work and other researchers’ makes you feel good and inspires you to continue. I see how my work is relating to what I am reading, but also how it is making developments. Although there is lots of literature concerning the immaterial in relation to dress, the visible is still prioritised. I hope to make a contribution with my research to enable a different perspective and approach to reading dressed appearance.