The making of clothing and the making of London, 1560-1660
University of Cambridge
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Pitman, S. (2017). The making of clothing and the making of London, 1560-1660 (Doctoral thesis). https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.15862
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In recent years, urban historians have established that the period from 1560 to 1660 was a key era for London’s development from a relatively small European urban centre into a large dynamic global capital. This dissertation attempts to intervene in London scholarship by drawing attention to the economic, political, religious and – most significantly – cultural importance of clothing in the city in this period. Using material, visual, literary and archival sources, it explores the ways clothing contributed to the development of early modern London and, in turn, how London’s rapid growth changed the making, wearing, and meaning of clothing. This dissertation places material evidence at the fore using extant objects from museum collections. It also employs the new methodology of reconstruction to explore craft, ingenuity, and emotional self-expression in dress. As clothing infused economic and social life, it draws upon on a wide range of evidence, from London guild records, to portraits, travel accounts, personal letters, diaries and account books, plays, sermons and poems. With a focus on urban experience, this dissertation discusses not only elite luxury consumption, but also investigates the wardrobes of guildsmen, immigrant craftspeople, apprentices and maids – asking what they wore, what they thought about what they were wearing, and how they used clothing to navigate through the city during this time of rapid change. A chapter on the ‘London Look’ shows how inhabitants and visitors documented the visual and material styles of the city. Exploring the collaborative processes by which clothing was made, worn and appreciated by craftspeople and consumers, a chapter on making and buying clothing demonstrates how clothes were made and charts the emergence of a new consumer culture. Existing scholarship on sumptuary laws is challenged in a chapter that demonstrates how laws were enforced in the city while also integrating extant objects into the discussion for the first time. Finally, using a sample of London wills, the dissertation shows how Londoners owned, bequeathed and inherited clothing, and imbued it with emotional meaning. In sum, this dissertation aims to integrate scholarship on early modern London with material culture studies, and to promote the new methodology of reconstruction for historians. In revealing how London was conceived during a time of rapid change, clothing can be used as a lens through which to explore wider discourse about a city that by 1657 was being described as ‘Londinopolis.’ Clothing helped to make London into a wealthy, dynamic, and diverse urban centre, and these changes dramatically shaped the way clothing was made and appreciated.
clothing, london, fashion, dress, early modern, sixteenth century, seventeenth century, material culture, visual culture, urban culture, clothes, consumerism, consumption, England, wills, bequests, objects, sumptuary law, Europe, urban growth, global city, making, craft, emotions, ingenuity, self-fashioning, reconstruction, shopping
AHRC funding. Grant number AH/K502959/1.
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This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.15862
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