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. 

Each season of the series will consist of 6 online seminars, conducted fortnightly over an online platform. Our inaugural season of papers, Creative Approaches to Dress History, launched Autumn 2020 and will be followed by our second season, Human Stories of Dress, starting in January 2021. Sessions run on Thursday evenings from 6pm. 

Sessions will contain papers from two or three speakers, as we strive to make connections and draw out the symbiotic threads across our work. 

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. Follow our twitter or check back later in the summer for our fourth CFP.






‘The past has to be taken apart. Old themes are worn as new details.’ - Judith Clark


When introduced to histories of dress, we are often met with timelines of fashion that imply a neat, progressive evolution of fashionable styles through the years. Clothing is framed as an index to history. Yet dress does not conform to an orderly chronology. It is full of disruptive reverberations, re-interpretations and revivals. The fashions of the past are repeatedly dismantled and reimagined, sending sartorial echoes through time. 


The historic resonance of dress can also carry an emotional weight on a personal level. Clothes can serve as welcome memories of loved ones, or less-welcome spectres of the past. Memories of clothes can be deeply nostalgic, while the garments not-worn can serve as ‘sliding-door’ moments, causing us to dwell on the parallel lives we did not live or bodies unlike our own. This has been explored, for example, by Shahidha Bari, who describes ‘spectral visions of ourselves [that] haunt these garments like all things that are romanticised and never realised.’


Dress maintains its capacity to ‘haunt’ in the setting of the museum or archive. Elizabeth Wilson described museums of dress as ‘mausoleums of culture’: haunted and eerie. She stated that ‘there are dangers in seeing what should have been sealed up in the past. We experience a sense of the uncanny when we gaze at garments that had an intimate relationship with human beings long since gone to their graves.’ Carol Tulloch has written of the power of archives to access personal fashion histories that may otherwise have been lost, suggesting that: ‘archives enable a lived experience to be revived and reassessed time and time again.’


All sessions are held on Thursday evenings at 6pm UK time (BST/GMT) 

Week One: Nostalgia & Nationalism

20th May 2021


Cecilia Gunzburger (20-minuate paper)

French Revolutionary Dress in the Bourbon Restoration: The Political Uses of Historic Dress

Sabine Wieber (20-minute paper)

Vienna’s 1879 Festzug and the Habsburg Empire’s ‘glorious’ Past

Alison Toplis (20-minute paper)

An exploration of the smock as a nostalgic spectre of rural England


 Register for week 1 here 



Week Two: Death, Memory & Afterlives

27th May 2021

Anni Shepherd (10-minute paper)

Spectres of the Abyss: the Mysteries of Shipwreck Textiles

Danielle Dove (20-minute paper)

‘Wilful Phantoms’: Re-Imagining Henry James’s Drowned Dresses

Clodagh Tait (20-minute paper)

‘I didn’t get my clothes when I died’: Clothing the dead in Irish tradition 


Rachel Neal (10-minute paper)​

'He is out of shape, like most of us who went through even a part of the Great War': A Nostalgic Tribute to a Faithful First World War Cardigan

 Register for week 2 here 


Week Three: Reconstruction & Reproduction

10th June 2021


Amber Pouliot (20-minute paper)

Serena Partridge’s ‘Accessories’ Collection for the Brontë Parsonage Museum: Haunting theHeritage Context

Jordan Mitchell-King (10-minute paper)​

Reanimating Dress: Interpreting Historical Clothing through Experimental Wearing

Cynthia Chin Kirk (20-minute paper)

‘I am only fond of what comes from the heart’: Memory and Trauma in Martha Washington’s Purple Silk Gown


 Register for week 3 here 

Week Four: Performance & Performativity

24th June 2021


Ella Hawkins (20-minute paper)

The Time is Out of Joint: ‘Haunted’ Costuming at Shakespeare’s Globe

Hilary Davidson (20-minute paper)

Looking Back Through Fashion: Regency Romanticisms

Anouska Lester (10-minute paper)

“Item, One Ghost’s Crown”: Haunting and Loss in Philip Henslowe’s 1598 Theatrical Inventories

 Register for week 4 here 


Week Five: Trauma & the Legacies of Loss

1st July 2021

Lucy Adlington (20-minute paper)

The Apple-Green Gown: Ghosts of ADEFA and Nazi Germany

Mark O'Connell (20-minute paper)

Cosmetics, Glamour and AIDS: Way Bandy, Scott Barrie and Halston

Kimberly Lamm (20-minute paper)

The Time of Slavery at the White House: Elizabeth Keckley’s Written Garments and the Burdens of Intimacy



 Register for week 5 here 


​ Week Six: Human Connections & Embodied Stories

15th July 2021


Cyana Madsen (20-minute paper)

Exhibiting Phantasms: Reflections on Curating Worn Clothing in Requiem: Material Memory

Liz Tregenza (20-minute paper)

‘I might not remember what happened, but I can always remember what I wore’: Sartorial Stories 1970-Now

Emilia Müller and Tomás Errázuriz (10-minute paper)

My favourite garment: Rethinking fashion, clothing and affection


 Register for week 6 here 



Week Seven: Historicism, Revival & Re-use

29th July 2021

Serena Dyer (20-minute paper)

Sartorial Chronology and Fashionable Anachronism: Historicism, Temporality and the Making of Dress Histories

Sarah Hodge (10-minute paper)

A Fancy for the Past: Historical Style in Britain 1800 -1851

Ruby Hodgson (10-minute paper)

Robe a la Grand-Mere: Re-use of 18th century silk in Romantic era dress

Jane Hattrick (20-minute paper)

Queering the Hartnell Crinoline: Reinventing Second Empire French Fashions, Fantasy, Gender Performativity and the Royal Body


 Register for week 7 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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