I am very excited to announce that my book on smocks will be published on 20th May 2021 by Bloomsbury Academic.
A social history of a single garment, my cast list includes Ellen Terry, Georgia O’Keeffe, the WI, body snatchers, navvies, Molly Goddard, John Dryden and many more.
For me it is a way to delve into working-class clothing histories, so often hidden and forgotten, the preference being instead for ‘fashion’ history. Likewise, menswear is often brushed over in writing about historic clothing, especially once the suit was dominant as masculine dress.
I feel passionate about uncovering the clothing practices of working people – around seventy per cent of the population by the 1860s. Although not always seen as very exciting, garments thought of as practical and unchanging, I hope that my research on smocks will help to change this way of thinking. In addition, smocks survive in numbers, unlike most working-class dress, allowing a material examination of garments to be undertaken.
I also look at smocks as emotional objects, evoking nostalgia for the rural, and a specific vision of England in the past, which is continually re-invoked through various media. As smocks became part of children’s wear in the late nineteenth century, and remain so today, they are similarly associated with childhood sentiment and often the making of children’s clothing at home.
I am very pleased that my book is also being offered in paperback so hopefully this will make if more affordable.
Further details can be found here: