The writer examines French and English views of the hoop petticoat, as expressed in popular literature of the first quarter of the 18th century. These opinions (seemingly, all expressed by men) were generally negative, even scurrilous, the hoop being regarded (and feared) as an indicator that women were announcing independence from the masculine control of their sexual and social lives that the male dominated culture then believed to be ‘natural’. Both France and England attacked the hoop for masking female social status (although the nature of this criticism varied), and both countries condemned the hoop for its challenge to what was at the time perceived as an even more fundamental social relationship: the ‘natural’ subservience of women to men. Moreover, as the centers of circular worlds measuring as much as eight feet in diameter, they were creating private spaces that (in men’s eyes) questioned the rights of fathers, husbands, and lovers to control sexual relations and the reproductive process.
Covers a wide timespan from the Middle Ages to the present day. Does not aim to present a comprehensive chronology, but examines the meanings of dress in a cultural context and interprets distinctions of class, gender, sexuality, nationality.
The papers examine the gendered nature of dress in German, British, American, Italian, African and Chinese cultures, covering the period from the sixteenth to the twentieth century.
Part of a special section on dress and gender. An analysis of a pair of 18th-century silk suits preserved at The Vyne, a country house near Basingstoke, England. The suits belonged to John Chute, who inherited The Vyne in 1754, and was described by contemporaries as ‘effeminate in appearance and manner’. From this analysis of Chute’s surviving suits emerges a more complex and nuanced picture of Chute’s appearance, emphasizing the way in which dress can articulate social and cultural meanings. From reading Chute’s correspondence, examining his portraits, and analyzing the extant suits at The Vyne, a significant divergence becomes apparent between these primary sources and the portrayal of Chute as sexual outsider, which several generations of historians have perpetuated.
This essay investigates the relationship between dress and conduct literature in sixteenth century Italy. Typically contemporary accounts, diaries and prescriptive literature have been used to reconstruct physical garments but this essay uses such texts to reconstruct a sense of contemporary attitudes towards dress and fashion. Conduct literature was prolific throughout the sixteenth century and guidelines about appropriate behaviour were interrelated with recommendations on appropriate dress. This worked to create a morality of dress, with certain types of clothing elevated and certain types associated with a damaged dignity and honour. Dress was defined through forms of social behaviour – there was no word for fashionable dress, just distinctions between old and new forms of social behaviour. Dress was the key signifier of social stability and the belief that clothing was an outward manifestation of the wearers moral and social worth lay at the heart of the 16th century conduct book. Currie emphasises the importance of theories over dress and fashion in reflecting the social, economic and political concerns of Italian cities – conduct manuals tried to preserve the status quo, with writers never questioning the idea that dress was a means of upholding social distinctions, instead focusing on external challenges such as the migration of new foreign styles. Furthermore, Currie suggests that as the Florentine court grew in its bureaucracy and sumptuousness, conduct books instructions over dress would have provided indispensable to a new layer of élites.
The authors trace the history of 120 female transvestites in Holland from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, using archival material. Their findings shed light on a northwestern European, rather than a merely local, phenomenon.
In this article, the author argues that images of muffs in several portraits of actresses from the 1780s and 1790s can be read as ambiguous cultural signs that are analogous to the ambivalent position of actresses as female celebrities in the late eighteenth century. Muffs in portraits of actresses draw attention to the complex boundary between fame and notoriety for eighteenth-century women: in certain images muffs function as signs of aristocracy and glamour, in others of crass accumulation and overt sexuality. At the same time that these portraits were being painted a number of satiric prints appeared featuring female bodies engulfed by enormous muffs. Muffs function in these caricatures as ambiguous signs of gender and sexuality, which may have been directly related to anxieties about actresses acting as consumers, fashion plates, and urban professionals. The dual nature of the muff represents the complexities of fashioning celebrity for eighteenth-century female performers.
The writer discusses Elizabethan and Jacobean portraits of pregnant women as evidence of maternity wear at this time. In English art of the 16th and early 17th centuries, there seems to have been a tendency for ladies to be depicted as clearly pregnant, with the main body of such portraits apparently dating from the late 1580s to around 1630. However, it is possible that the attire depicted in this group of portraits may not in reality have taken the form depicted; what may be shown is the sitter’s richest formal attire, loosely draped over their bulging belly for the purpose of the portrait alone–a way that it may not have been worn in reality.
During the late sixteenth century ‘fashion’ first took on the sense of restless change in contrast to the older sense of fashioning or making. As fashionings, clothes were perceived as material forms of personal and social identity which made the man or woman. In Renaissance Clothing and the Materials of Memory Jones and Stallybrass argue that the making and transmission of fabrics and clothing were central to the making of Renaissance culture. Their examination explores the role of clothes as forms of memory transmitted from master to servant, from friend to friend, from lover to lover. This book offers a close reading of literary texts, paintings, textiles, theatrical documents, and ephemera to reveal how clothing and textiles were crucial to the making and unmaking of concepts of status, gender, sexuality, and religion in the Renaissance. The book is illustrated with a wide range of images from portraits to embroidery.
In 1666, King Charles II felt it necessary to reform Englishmen’s dress by introducing a fashion that developed into the three-piece suit. We learn what inspired this royal revolution in masculine attire – and the reasons for its remarkable longevity – in David Kuchta’s illustrated account. Between 1550 and 1850, Kuchta says, English upper- and middle-class men understood their authority to be based in part upon the display of masculine character: how they presented themselves in public and demonstrated their masculinity helped define their political legitimacy, moral authority, and economic utility. Much has been written about the ways political culture, religion, and economic theory helped shape ideals and practices of masculinity. Kuchta views the process working in reverse, in that masculine manners and habits of consumption in a patriarchal society contributed actively to people’s understanding of what held England together. The author shows not only how the ideology of modern English masculinity was a self-consciously political and public creation but also how such explicitly political decisions and values became internalized, personalized, and naturalized into everyday manners and habits.
This paper explores the distribution and consumption of used clothing between about 1660 and 1830, focusing specifically on urban areas in northern England. These regions were distant enough from London to flourish independently of the dominance of the large Metropolitan second-hand market. By investigating disparate sources such as criminal records, town directories, local newspapers, inventories, letters and diaries, it becomes apparent that dealers in second-hand garments traded in a far more extensive and sophisticated manner than has generally been acknowledged. Wearing apparel was both expensive and sought-after, and its commercial recycling was established in many northern English towns from the seventeenth century. During the period of the long eighteenth century, this trade in second-hand clothing was increasingly regulated and standardised, resulting in a decided gender shift away from informal female dealers towards shop-based male pawnbrokers and clothes brokers.
A study of the ways in which the consumption of luxury goods transformed social practices, gender roles, royal policies, and the economy in seventeenth-century England. The author charts the development of new ways of shopping; new aspirations and identities shaped by print, continental travel, and trade to Asia, Africa, the East and West Indies; new building, furnishing, and collecting; and the new relationship of technology, luxury and science. As contemporaries eagerly appropriated and copied foreign material culture, the expansion of luxury consumption continued across the usual divide of the Civil War and the Interregnum and helped to propel England from the margins to the center of European growth and innovation. Her findings show for the first time the seventeenth-century origins of consumer society and she offers a new framework for the history of seventeenth-century England.
Part of a special issue on fashion and eroticism. The writer examines the sexual charge of the English macaronies in the 1760s and 1770s. These men adopted a particularly ostentatious and fashionable mode of dressing and deportment for many reasons inflected by their class interests and personal motivations. A mannered and performative behavior as much as expensive garments activated the macaroni persona, who emphasized Francophile artifice in posture, gesture, speech, cosmetics and hairdressing. The macaroni formed a bridge that linked ideas of effeminacy, luxury, and display with homosexuality, and fed forward into late-19th-century conceptions of the homosexual as third sex. The writer examines research on the literary and visual representations of macaroni culture and the changing meaning of effeminacy in the history of homosocial relationships from rake, through sodomite, to macaroni.
This article discusses the macaroni phenomenon, with reference to transformations of masculinity and gendered consumption. It considers how the dress prerogatives of the male elite may have passed into the reach of the ‘lower’ orders. McNeil contends that macaronic behaviour is more about the process of wearing than the product that is worn. He makes a case for an alternative or additional derivation of the term ‘macaroni’ that privileges this sense of performative burlesque. The article argues the benefits of a cultural studies approach to eighteenth-century male dress, in which the relationship between modernity, fashion and representation is foregrounded, and macaroni dress related to evolving models of national and gendered identity. The macaroni contradicted the notion that masculine clothing expressed a stable and inherent self, overturning pre-modern dress hierarchies. The macaroni posited a self that exists only in performance, and cannot be fully understood by simply analyzing the clothes he wore. However, macaroni costume analysis does expose the visual flux such clothing brought to cities like London, redefining it as a modern center of international trade. The article concludes that it is the power of fashion as modern commodity that invoked the anxieties that saw the macaroni simultaneously mocked and celebrated in public discourse and popular culture.
This book examines not only naval dress but also male fashion in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The development of naval uniform is considered within social, economic, and historical contexts. Includes a catalogue of colour photographs of uniform from the collection of the National Maritime Museum.
Moralists have raged throughout history against various fashions for being too short, too long, too tight, too loose or too costly. Highlighting the times when choice of dress was a moral minefield, this book looks at fashion extremes over the centuries, from the sexual display of the codpiece through to corsets, crinolines and décolletage. Ribeiro shows how dress has functioned variously as a vehicle of righteousness or turpitude and as an expression of sexuality, class or social status. Dress and Morality is an in-depth exploration of the comical vanities and social etiquettes associated with dress in the past.
The contributors to this volume offer a wide range of topics, perspectives, and approaches as they explore issues of gender and cultural cross-dressing. The meanings inherent in theatrical costuming; the ways in which novels, journals, and prints disseminated ideas about fashion, status, and gender; and present case studies of cultural practices relating to clothing are examined. The ways in which dress articulates transformations in the economic conditions, social relations, and ideological constructions of the culture of the eighteenth century are also traced.
Part of a special section on dress and gender. An analysis of French and English footwear in the so-called long 18th-century. The writers shows how in the long 18th century, attitudes towards shoes and their merchandising were inextricably linked to intertwined and gendered notions of nationhood, health, and science. Starting with the physicality of the historical body, they also demonstrate how the changing nature of the built landscape in the cities and towns of Enlightenment Europe led to new relationships between footwear, wearers, and walking. They argue that limitations in enjoying the physical space of the city and town translated themselves into cultural, social, and psychological restraints, thus connecting national debates over fashionability, practicality, health, and the gendered body.
Beads have been used since antiquity, not only to dress the body, but as measures of value in economic and ritual exchanges. Their popularity has never waned, and in recent years their trade has enjoyed a world-wide revival. Beads have deep and multiple meanings: in many cultures, together with garments, they reflect age, gender and social status, and are a vehicle through which people store, exchange and transmit wealth. This book analyzes techniques and gendered aspects of the making of beads, as well as their role in trade and body adornment, in a wide range of societies, from the ancient Mediterranean to Renaissance Venice and present-day Southern Africa and West Africa, where they have become a symbol of cultural survival and identity.
Examines the relationship of seventeenth-century women to their clothing.
Clothing occupied a very particular place in 17th-century English culture. At that time, dress awareness was not limited to middle- and upper-class women but equally – if not more so – to men. Clothing became a key determinant of economic identity, as sartorial state was repeatedly described by those who sought to make their pecuniary position clear. The way an individual dressed had therefore the potential power to determine placement in the social ranking while also potentially affecting the expression of personality and even producing forms of differently gendered behavior. Analysis of the circulation of clothing clarifies the effects of gifted garments on the relationship between the giver and the recipient, and an examination of gloves illustrates the variety of meanings that could adhere to a specific item of clothing.
For around 400 years fashion and decency required a neatly boned body, yet at the same time many women spent much of their adult lives pregnant. How women were able to dress would affect their role in public society, yet letters and diaries show little reduction in their daily activities. Evidence of what was actually worn is scarce, perhaps because the dilemma was not so great as we imagine — whenever clothing is mentioned or depicted we see women wearing normal garments adapted with the addition of one or two items. Front-lacing stays could be adapted with stomachers, and some back-lacing ones exist with additional side-lacing; both styles would suit the pregnant and non-pregnant state alike. It is not until the nineteenth century that specific maternity corsets and clothing begin to appear, when general corset design and fashion styles became impossible to adapt without structural alteration.