Cover image for The Englishness of English dress
The Englishness of English dress
Breward, Christopher, 1965-
Publication Information:
Oxford ; New York : Berg, 2002.
Physical Description:
xiv, 219 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1480 Lexile.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GT733 .E64 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Is there a peculiarly English 'look' and if so how does one define it?

From the 'traditional' dress of the Victorian rural working class through to the contemporary collections of Vivienne Westwood and a younger generation of London-based designers, notions of Englishness, either real or imagined, have always been at play in considerations of English fashion and clothing. This provocative book explores how far these fraught ideals can be applied to the dress of the past and present. English expressions of taste and creativity have had a profound influence on style over the last three centuries, and the pursuit and subversion of an English 'look' have shaped conceptions of fashionability from the pastoralism of the eighteenth-century through to the eras of Twiggy, Punk and beyond. But are these simply stereotypical characterizations that relate to an imagined 'Englishness', or is there some concrete basis for them? If the former, what has led to their development? If the latter, what definitions can be employed to unravel such complicated conceptions of national identity? What role has social decorum played in developing an 'English' style, and is this preoccupation with etiquette in fact unique to England ?

With chapters authored by leading scholars in the fields of costume history, social history and cultural studies, this is the first book to examine the ways in which fashion and dress might be considered in the context of national identities as they apply in England. Presenting an overview of how particular designers and consumer groups have striven to present or contest versions of Englishness through clothing from the 18th through to the 21st centuries, it will fascinate anyone interested in dress history, national and ethnic identity or English cultural history.

Author Notes

Christopher Breward is Professor in Historical and Cultural Studies, London College of Fashion.
Becky Conekin is Lecturer and Senior Research Fellow in Historical and Cultural Studies, London College of Fashion.
Caroline Cox is Fashion Journalist and Consultant.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgementsp. vii
Notes on Contributorsp. ix
Illustrationsp. xiii
Introduction 'dyed in the Wool English?'p. 1
Notesp. 12
Referencesp. 12
Part I Towards a History of English Stylep. 13
1 On Englishness in Dressp. 15
Notesp. 25
Referencesp. 26
2 Englishness, Clothes and Little Thingsp. 29
Notesp. 40
Referencesp. 41
3 Dressing like a Champion: Women's Tennis Wear in Interwar Englandp. 45
Referencesp. 59
4 Strawberries and Cream: Dress, Migration and the Quintessence of Englishnessp. 61
Referencesp. 74
Part II On Designing Englishnessp. 77
5 'what a Deal of Work There is in a Dress!' Englishness and Home Dressmaking in the Age of the Sewing Machinep. 79
Notesp. 93
Referencesp. 94
6 Rural Working-Class Dress, 1850-1900: a Peculiarly English Tradition?p. 97
Notesp. 110
Referencesp. 111
7 The Wardrobe of Mrs Leonard Messel, 1895-1920p. 113
Notesp. 130
Referencesp. 132
8 The Spirit of English Style: Hardy Amies, Royal Dressmaker and International Businessmanp. 133
Referencesp. 144
9 Gilded Brocade Gowns and Impeccable Tailored Tweeds: Victor Stiebel (1907-76) a Quintessentially English Designerp. 147
Referencesp. 158
Part III Representing Englishnessp. 159
10 Vivienne Westwood's Anglomaniap. 161
Referencesp. 172
11 English-Style Photography?p. 173
Referencesp. 188
12 Fashion Stranger Than Fiction: Shelley Foxp. 189
Referencesp. 210
Appendix: The Korner Archivep. 213