Clothing the Living and the Dead: Memory, Social Identity and Aristocratic Habit in the Early Modern Habsburg Empire

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Clothing, together with other cultural phenomena such as manners, language and even physical gestures, marked the boundaries in early modern society that would eventually define such distinctions as class, gender and nationality in “modern” society. This article contains two major parallel lines of analysis, i.e. the cultural meaning of clothing in life on the one hand and its significance in death and for remembrance on the other. It focuses on a defined social group from the sixteenth to eighteenth century and explores how the clothed body, through choice of fashion and fabric, can be a social distinguisher. In death, objects such as jewellery and clothing which adorned the human body, have particular connection to memorial rituals, because piety and social life style can thus by demonstrated. Objects such as these are also significant when bequeathed, as they suggest an influence on class order and social justice.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 1, 2001

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  • Fashion Theory takes as its starting point a definition of “fashion” as the cultural construction of the embodied identity. The importance of studying the body as a site for the deployment of discourses has been well established in a number of disciplines. Until Fashion Theorys launch in 1997 the dressed body had suffered from a lack of critical analysis. Increasingly scholars have recognized the cultural significance of self-fashioning, including not only clothing but also such body alterations as tattooing and piercing.

    Fashion Theory provides an international and interdisciplinary forum for the rigorous analysis of cultural phenomena. Its peer-reviewed articles range from foot-binding to fashion advertising.
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