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.



Season 5: The Places and Spaces of Dress and Style

Dress is situated within place and space. On an individual level, dress is the medium through which we experience the world around us, and in turn, the way we dress shapes our cultural and social spaces.

This season, the Sartorial Society will explore the geographies of dress and style. It seeks to understand how and why certain places, such as Paris, have come to be associated with fashion, but also to look beyond the narrow group of global fashion capitals that dominate many Western-centric understandings of fashion in order to ask what we can learn from re-situating dress within space and place. The sites of fashion include both spaces of production and consumption; from the physical bricks-and-mortar of the built environment to the digital spaces of fashion and even spaces of the imagination. Often items of dress provide connections between different places and can be transformed through their movement between them.

In an increasingly global fashion system dominated by diverse and complex structures of production, dissemination and influence, it is arguably harder than ever to trace the places and spaces of fashionable production. Yet fashion systems have long histories of purposefully obscuring the realities of these geographies in order to stimulate desire. Historic networks of production, trade and consumption have long shaped both local and international geographies. In the age of the Anthropocene, the fashion industry’s environmental impact also has profound consequences on habitats and ecosystems, reshaping the future of the planet.

Fashion and style can also be tied to spaces and places in less tangible ways, and have the ability - for example - to communicate information about specific countries, cities or communities. Dress enables us to ask questions about the different lived experiences of individual localities, asking how a rural or urban life might alter the demands made of our attire, and how the unique styles of distinct places are changing as the world becomes more connected. 

Subjects could include but are not limited to:

  • Fashion cities, city styles, and local subcultures 

  • Sites of production and consumption

  • Urban vs rural geographies of fashion

  • National/global/regional/local identity through dress

  • The environmental impacts of fashion

  • Fashion influences/influencers - historical and digital

  • Global and local networks of fashion

  • Digital and online fashion spaces

  • The imagined places and spaces of dress

Alongside the standard 20-minute research seminar papers, we offer 10-minute slots for researchers to try out new and fresh projects, or for those who are newer to the world of dress research. If your paper is selected, we are happy to offer support to prepare your presentation, if required. We are keen to support underrepresented voices in dress history, and warmly welcome papers from those who identify as LGBTQI+, People of Colour, or come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. 

We invite speakers to submit a brief 250 word abstract of their paper, a title, and a 100-word biography via email to Please also indicate if you would like to present in a 20-minute or 10-minute slot. The organisers can also be reached on twitter @SartorialSeries.

The season will run on the following dates in 2022: March 10th, March 24th, April 7th, April 21st, May 5th, May 19th. If your abstract is chosen, you will be assigned a date.  Please state any dates you could not attend within your submission. Sessions take place Thursday evenings starting 6.30pm UK time.

The deadline for submissions is Friday February 4th, 2022.






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

  • Twitter

Dr Serena Dyer

  • Twitter
WhatsApp Image 2020-12-08 at
  • Twitter

Dr Liz Tregenza

  • Twitter
  • Twitter