Politics of Fashion in Eighteenth-Century America
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
Series: Gender and American Culture
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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There is a line in Shakespeare, “Things won are done; joy’s soul lies in the doing.” Perhaps that is why I worked on this book for so long, accumulating many debts along the way. It began at Cornell University under the expert direction of Mary Beth Norton. Her support has been unfl agging, her guidance...
INTRODUCTION: That Strange, Ridic’lous Vice
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It was a paradox that puzzled many Britons during the eighteenth century: How could fashion be at once a social “folly,” a moral “vice” born of envy and appetite, and an economic good, “turning the trade” and contributing to the success of the English nation and British empire? Bernard Mandeville...
ONE: The Many Faces of Fashion in the Early Eighteenth Century
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When Mary Alexander, a merchant who operated a business with her husband, James, in New York, placed a large order for fabric with her English suppliers in 1726, she included three pages of samples: a sheet filled with ribbon pieces, another displaying fifty-eight...
TWO: Fops and Coquettes: Gender, Sexuality, and Status
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Stopping in Staten Island along his journey from Maryland to Boston in 1744, Dr. Alexander Hamilton observed, almost without irony, that the gray moss that hung heavily from the trees might “if handsomely oild and powdered and tyed behind with a bag or ribbon . . . make a tollerable...
THREE: Country Modes: Cultural Politics and Political Resistance
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During the spring of 1766, Robert R. Livingston, a lawyer and member of the prominent Livingston clan of New York, took on the persona of a wife in a piece of satire he likely intended for publication. The “letter,” a missive from a woman in the city to her husband in the country,...
FOUR: New Duties and Old Desires on the Eve of Revolution
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On November 2, 1773, Sarah Eve refl ected in her journal on the time she had spent with Mrs. Brayen, the wife of a doctor, a “man of fortune” from Trenton, New Jersey. The day began well enough—that morning Eve had called upon friends who insisted that she accompany...
FIVE: A Contest of Modes in Revolutionary Philadelphia
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From the hoop controversies of the early eighteenth century and the sumptuary restrictions of South Carolina’s 1740 slave code to the homespun campaigns and backlash of the 1760s and early 1770s, the port cities of British North America saw continual contests over fashion...
SIX: Fashion and Nation
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In the 1780s, Americans faced dilemmas both sartorial and political. Having won independence from Great Britain in a contest that not only pitted an imperial power against a nascent republic but also set ways of signifying power, legitimacy, and authority against one another, inhabitants...
EPILOGUE: Political Habits and Citizenship’s Corset: The 1790s and Beyond
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In the 1790s, the corset reentered the world of fashion. This is not to say that the midsections of women’s bodies had gone unsupported in the decades, even centuries, before. Stays, or “jumps,” and stomachers stiff ened by whalebone shaped the forms of many women in the early...
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Page Count: 304
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2011
Series Title: Gender and American Culture