Research Essay on Reform Wear & Alternative Wear

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Word Count

1500 words




4 Days

Assignment Criteria

Define one of the key terms below through analysing at least two of the case studies or performance events or items of dress discussed in class and/or in the assigned readings.

You must discuss your chosen examples within their appropriate historical frameworks and further contextualise them by examining the intererelations among performance,agency and dress. Please include at least three referenced images to help support your critical discussion.

Key terms:-

Week 1: Introduction to course

Week 2: Identity,Difference,Otherness

Week 3: Gender ,Construction,Consumption, Production

Week 4: Ideology,Collective ,Intervention, Everyday

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Assignment Solution


Case Study 1 Reform Wear (1850)

The years from 1850 to 1890 were defined as the Age of Nationalism and Reform, which was a period marked by a time of great political and social upheaval in Europe and the western world. Some of the architects of the political revolution of the times include Napolean in France and Bismarck in Germany but in general there was a great movement towards nationalism and reform all over the European continent. These political and social changes were reflected in many aspects of people's everyday life, including the dressing and fashion of the times.

Looking into women's fashion of those times, it is evident that women wore mostly what was called hoopskirts where dresses were defined by tight waist bands and had billowing skirts over large hoops. The hoops that were made of bands of wood or metal, and bands were covered with muslin cloth. (Illinois Women Artist Project, 2014)

The following picture is of dresses that women wore in the 1850's through 1860's.The dominant ideology in the United States in the 1850's was 'reform towards democracy and equality for all citizens. This reform also included the demands from women to enjoy the same freedom that men enjoyed' almost a feminist movement where the women demanded the abolishment of certain laws like the right of the man to have his wife imprisoned. (Cuizon, 2009) Since the prevailing ideology of the time was a progressive movement towards democracy and freedom, society at this time began to pay attention to the clothes that woman wore. The fashion was quite rigid and many of the articles of women's clothing were detrimental to women's health. In the 1850's fashion dictated that a woman should wear five or six petticoats beneath their dress. The skirts of a woman's dress were very long and day dresses were long sleeved and had high necks, whereas evening dresses were sleevelesss and cut low. Women also wore corsets which where supposed to cinch the waist and push up the breasts. Evening dresses included high heeled footwear. Being comfortable or practical was of no consideration in women's fashion of the 1850's (, 2014).

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