A new digital seminar series exploring the history of dress, fashion & bodily adornment.

The Sartorial Society Series is a new digital seminar programme, which aims to showcase the most exciting and innovative research in the historical study of dress, fashion, and bodily adornment. 

Sessions will contain papers from two or three speakers, as we strive to make connections and draw out the symbiotic threads across our work. Sessions run on Thursday evenings from 6.30pm UK time. 

Most importantly, the series will encourage collegiality and will be an open, inclusive and friendly space to meet others interested in dress history. We encourage BYO wine, tea or soft drink of choice and invite you to join the post-talk Q&A. 

The Sartorial Society Series is organised by a group of dress historians and curators with the aim of celebrating the diverse, innovative, and excellent research emerging in the field of dress history. We want to create a space that welcomes and supports dress historians from all backgrounds, and fosters positive connections within our field. 

The Sartorial Society Series is proud to be supported by the Pasold Research Fund.



Our call for papers is currently closed. Check back soon for the call for papers for season 5.






Histories of dress often focus on garments as human display: the identities that they perform and project out into the world. For the fourth season of the Sartorial Society series, we want to think beyond dress as outward appearance, and instead think about dress that is concealed and dress that conceals. From the supportive undergarments that act as foundations, to the outer garments that hide a secret identity, this season centres on dress that is or enables something to be out of sight. 


The act of concealment through clothing can be a personal preference, an expression of religious belief, or a protective gesture. Some dress is intended only to be worn in private, to be hidden under the cover of darkness, or donned at intimate moments. Hidden garments can support and shape the bodily form, transforming human anatomy into fashionable silhouettes. Clandestine, mysterious or obscure, dress enables people to have secret identities, to disguise themselves, to change identity, to live a dual life. If dress can form identities, it can also subvert them.


But it is not only upon the body that garments conceal and are concealed. Archaeologists find textiles that have been buried for centuries - hidden beneath the mud. Some garments are purposefully concealed, such as the shoes placed in the walls, attics and cellars of buildings as an act of superstition. And in museum collections, objects are sometimes hidden from view by the systems that are designed to protect them. For this season, we seek to uncover these hidden garments, and to illuminate what they conceal.


All sessions are held on Thursday evenings at 6.30pm UK time (BST/GMT) 

Please note the new time of 6.30pm UK time.

Week One: Undercover (Crime)

30th September 2021


Katherine Lennard (20-minute paper)

The Empire’s New Clothes: Counterfeit Robes and the Ku Klux Klan

Alison Matthews David (10-minute paper) 

Microscopes, Vacuum Cleaners and Chemistry Sets: Fashion Forensics and the Technologies of Revelation

Chris Woodyard (20-minute paper)

The Woman in Black: Victorian Mourning Costume as Criminal Disguise


 Register for week 1 here 



Week Two: Concealed and Revealed in the Museum

14th October 2021

Lorraine Smith (20-minute paper)

The Underpinnings Museum: Revealing the Hidden History of Undergarments

Rebecca Shawcross (20-minute paper)

Concealed Shoes: The ordinary or the extraordinary on display?

 Register for week 2 here 


Week Three: Modesty, Privacy and Empowerment

28th October 2021


Jordan Mitchell-King (20-minute paper)

Eighteenth-Century Loungewear? An Investigation of Jumps and Quilted Waistcoats

Noel Jordan Racca (20-minute paper)

Mapping Femininity and Propriety: A Historical Analyses of Undergarments
and Body Concealment Forms during Pre-Colonial and Post Colonial
Epoch in the Philippines

Sonya Battla (10-minute paper)

Exploring the Burqa as a Weapon 


 Register for week 3 here 

Week Four: Gender, the Body and Performance

11th November 2021


Charles McFarlane (10-minute paper)

Camouflaged to Stand Out: The Evolution of Military Camouflage in the 20th and 21st Centuries

Danielle Sprecher (20-minute paper)

‘The men who wear corsets are just ordinary people, Officers, aye and Privates too’: Fragments of biography of a gentleman’s corset in mid-twentieth century Britain

Catarina Ferreira (10-minute paper)

'Of Corset Does': Investigating the Materiality of Corsets through Embodied Practice

 Register for week 4 here 


Week Five: Anxiety and Experience

25th November 2021

Nica Cornell (10-minute paper)

‘Whose Body Is It Anyway?’ – Disguising a Disabled Self

Rosie Findlay (20-minute paper)

Sartorial Misdirection

Oline Eaton (10-minute paper)

Trauma, Power, and Archival Privilege: Meditations on Jacqueline Kennedy’s Pink Suit



 Register for week 5 here 


​ Week Six: Tight Lacing

9th December 2021


Lis Gernerd (20-minute paper)

Tight Lacing: the Material and Satirical Origins of a Motif

Alanna McKnight (20-minute paper)

The Fetish Legacy of Tight Lacing: John Willy, Fakir Musafar, and Ethel Granger


 Register for week 6 here 




Dr Elisabeth Gernerd

Dr Lucie Whitmore


Dr Bethan Bide

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Dr Serena Dyer

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Dr Liz Tregenza

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