From Fieldwork to the Pages of Vogue

Further to my last post, my new article has just been published in the journal Textile History (May 2018).  This traces how the smock frock moved from being  a nineteenth century utilitarian overall worn by male manual labourers and particularly associated with agricultural work, to appearing on the front cover of American Vogue as an item of female clothing in 1915.  It discusses how the smock was used by artists, particularly those associated with the aesthetic and rational dress movements, and the influence that the smock had on children’s wear at the end of the nineteenth century.

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The importance of the actress Ellen Terry and her daughter Edith Craig in the transformation of the smock into a piece of women’s wear is investigated and also the garment’s influence on American fashion.  The smock frock, once a marker of a male manual labourer, managed  to bridge the gap between high fashion and workwear, and also menswear and womenswear, and become part of mainstream fashion, the shape perennially revived ever since the early twentieth century. The impact of the smock on children’s wear has also been significant, witness Princess Charlotte’s dress when she was photographed visiting her new baby brother just last week. How and why these changes happened are what my article seeks to at least start answering, and how a garment associated firmly with one particular gender can be transformed into something altogether more fluid.  This started off as a sideline to my main research but has turned out to be a fascinating subject in itself and the more I investigate, the more I find!

There are some free e-copies of my article for those who want to know more and get there first, link below: