Folkways: A study of mores,manners, customs and morals, by William Graham Sumner. 2002 Dover,

“Fashion in dress has covered both absurdities and indecencies with the aegis of custom. From the beginning of the fourteenth century laws appear against indecent dress. What nobles invented, generally in order to give especial zest to the costume of a special occasion, that burghers and later peasants imitated and made common. In the fifteenth century the man’s hose fitted the legs and hips tightly. The latchet was a different color, and was decorated and stuffed as if to exaggerate still further the indecent obtrusiveness of it. Schultz says that the pictures which we have do not show the full indecency of the dress against which the clergy and moralists of the fifteenth century uttered denunciations, but only those forms which were considered decent, that is, those which were within the limits which custom at the time had established. At the same time women began to uncover the neck and bosom. The extent to which this may be carried is always controlled by fashion and mores. Puritans and Quakers attempted to restrict it entirely, and to so construct the dress, by a neckerchief or attachment to the bodice, that the shape of the bust should be entirely concealed. The mores rejected this rule as excessive. In spite of all the eloquence of the moral preachers, that form of dress which shows neck and bosom has become established, only that it is specialized for full dress and covered by conventionalization.”

Posted December 26, 2002

Related Posts

Comments are closed.