Roundtable: Colonial Couture

Roundtable: Colonial Couture

Christian Dior (2011) and Dorothy Quincy Hancock Scott (ca. 1772)

You’re invited…to The Junto’s first roundtable on fashion as history in early American life. In step with New York Fashion Week, we’ll present a new perspective daily on how the material question of “what people wore” shaped personal politics and national identity. We’re, er, bursting at the seams with guest contributors, so watch this space for a new post (or two!) every day. Thanks to a diverse array of scholars, over the next week we’ll get a better look at the sartorial identities of the enslaved; explore Native Americans’ role in the textile trade; take in the view from Benjamin Franklin’s Versailles; meet the artisans who bound up the loose threads of Atlantic World couture; and more.

To get started, here’s a brief bibliography of early American fashion history resources. With #vastearlyamerica in style, we’re compiling a list of useful fashion history resources, ca. 1500-1860s, focusing on all avenues of the Atlantic World and beyond. Please chime in with your ideas and additions for further study in the comments below. Ideas welcome!

Read this…

Zara Anishanslin, Portrait of a Woman in Silk: Hidden Histories of the British Atlantic World

Linda Baumgarten, What Clothes Reveal: The Language of Clothing in Colonial and Federal America 

Linda Baumgarten, Eighteenth-Century Clothing at Williamsburg


Lakota (Teton/Western Sioux) Jacket (late 19th c.) and Firebird Shawl (n.d.)

Nancy Bradfield, Costume in Detail: Women’s Dress 1730-1930

Theodore Brasser, Native American Clothing: An Illustrated History

Wendy Lucas Castro, “Stripped: Clothing and Identity in Colonial Captivity Narratives,” Early American Studies 6, No. 1 (Spring 2008):104-136.

Madeleine Delpierre and Caroline Beamish, Dress in France in the Eighteenth Century

Robert S. DuPlessis, The Material Atlantic: Clothing, Commerce, and Colonization in the Atlantic World, 1650-1800

 Jonathan Eacott, Selling Empire: India in the Making of Britain and America, 1600-1830

Alice Morse Earle, Costume of Colonial Times

Rebecca Earle, “‘Two Pairs of Pink Satin Shoes!!’ Race, Clothing and Identity in the Americas (17th-19th Centuries),” History Workshop Journal 52 (Autumn 2001):175-195.

Andrea Feeser, Red, White, and Black Make Blue: Indigo in the Fabric of Colonial South Carolina Life

Alison Gernsheim, Victorian and Edwardian Fashion: A Photographic Survey

Douglas Gorsline, What People Wore: 1,800 Illustrations from Ancient Times to the Early Twentieth Century

Karen Harvey, ed., History and Material Culture: A Student’s Guide to Approaching Alternative Sources

Kate Haulman, The Politics of Fashion in Eighteenth-Century America

George C. Homans, “The Puritans and the Clothing Industry in England,” The New England Quarterly 13, No. 3 (Sept. 1940):519-529.


A Visit from the Old Mistress (Winslow Homer, 1876)

Patricia Hunt-Hurst, “‘Round Homespun Coat & Pantaloons of the Same’: Slave Clothing as Reflected in Fugitive Slave Advertisements in Antebellum Georgia,” The Georgia Historical Quarterly 83, No. 4 (Winter 1999):727-740.

Laura E. Johnson, “‘Goods to clothe themselves’: Native Consumers and Native Images on the Pennsylvania Trading Frontier, 1712–1760,” Winterthur Portfolio 43, No. 1 (Spring 2009):115-140.

Anita Jones, Patterns in a Revolution: French Printed Textiles, 1759-1821

Jane Kamensky, A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley

Harold Koda and Andrew Bolton, Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the Eighteenth Century

Catherine E. Kelly, Republic of Taste: Art, Politics, and Everyday Life in Early America

Carl Kohler, A History of Costume

Albert Kretschmer and Karl Rohrbach, Pictorial Encyclopedia of Historic Costume: 1200 Full-Color Figures

Diana DePaolo Loren, The Archaeology of Clothing and Bodily Adornment in Colonial America

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, An Elegant Art: Fashion and Fantasy in the Eighteenth Century

Erin Mackie, Market à la Mode: Fashion, Commodity, and Gender in the Tatler and the Spectator

Ben Marsh, “The Republic’s New Clothes: Making Silk in the Antebellum United States,” Agricultural History 86, No. 4 (Fall 2012):206-234.

Monica L. Miller, Slaves to Fashion: Black Dandyism and the Styling of Black Diasporic Identity

Rosemary Reed E. Miller, Threads of Time: The Fabric of History: Profiles of African American Dressmakers and Designers, 1850-2003

Charmaine Nelson., Legacies Denied: Unearthing the Visual Culture of Canadian Slavery

Josephine Paterek, Encyclopedia of American Indian Costume

Sumpter Priddy, American Fancy: Exuberance in the Arts, 1790-1840

Sally Queen and Vicki L. Berger, eds. Clothing and Textile Collections in the United States: A CSA Guide

Aileen Ribeiro, The Art of Dress: Fashion in England and France 1750 to 1820

Aileen Ribeiro, Dress in Eighteenth-Century Europe 1715-1789

Daniel Roche and Jean Birrell, The Culture of Clothing: Dress and Fashion in the ‘Ancien Regime’

Astrida Schaeffer, Embellishments: Constructing Victorian Detail

Joan Severa, Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans and Fashion, 1840-1900

R.L. Shep, Federalist & Regency Costume: 1790-1819

Kathleen A. Staples and Madelyn C. Shaw, Clothing through American History: The British Colonial Era

Jean Starobinski and Philippe Duboy, Revolution in Fashion: European Clothing, 1715-1815

Valerie Steele, The Corset: A Cultural History

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, The Age of Homespun: Objects and Stories in the Creation of an American Myth

Margaret Walsh, “Industrial Opportunity on the Urban Frontier: ‘Rags to Riches’ and Milwaukee Clothing Manufacturers, 1840-1880,” The Wisconsin Magazine of History 57, No. 3 (Spring 1974):174-194.

Shane White and Graham White, “Slave Clothing and African-American Culture in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries,” Past & Present 148 (Aug. 1995):149-186.

Sophie White, “Geographies of Slave Consumption: French Colonial Louisiana and a World of Goods,” Winterthur Portfolio 45, No. 2/3 (Summer/Autumn 2011):229-248.


Elijah Boardman (1789) and Simplicity Men’s sewing pattern (1975)

Claire Wilcox, Fashion in Detail 1700-2000

Michael Zakim, “A Ready-Made Business: The Birth of the Clothing Industry in America,” The Business History Review 73, No. 1 (Spring 1999):61-90.

….and see that

Costume Society of America

Textile Society of America

Association of Dress Historians

NYPL Costume and Fashion History: A Guide to Resources

The Museum at FIT

The Costume Institute, Metropolitan Musuem of Art

Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library

Colonial Williamsburg

Victoria & Albert Museum

Fashion and Textile Gallery, The Bowes Museum

Clothing & Accessories, Smithsonian, National Musum of American History

American Textile History Museum

Fashion and Textile Museum

Musée Galliera

7 responses

  1. Pingback: Canadian History Roundup – Week of February 5, 2017 | Unwritten Histories

  2. Pingback: Roundtable: Making American Pompons Great Again « The Junto


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