Fashioning the Self: Identity and Style in British Culture

Emily Priscott (Ed.)

by Chloe Northrop (Tarrant County College), Ramesha Jayaneththi (University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka), Margaret D. Stetz (University of Delaware), Emily Priscott , Petra Clark

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Across cultures and chronologies, the subjects examined in “Fashioning the Self“ grapple with dress as a means of self-creation, self-validation, and cultural expression. These scholars sensitively present fraught historical contexts and demonstrate the ways in which conformity and resistance have informed British style and identity.

Annette Becker
Director of the Texas Fashion Collection
College of Visual Arts & Design
University of North Texas

“Fashioning the Self: Identity and Style in British Culture” offers a rich resource for scholars of fashion studies, material culture, and literary studies. By juxtaposing diverse artifacts and texts, and exploring them thoughtfully within their distinctive milieux, this volume offers deep insight into the complexity of race, gender, culture, and class and how dress culture both reflects and electrifies the possibilities of British identity.

Dr. Christine Bayles Kortsch
Author of "Dress Culture in Late Victorian Women’s Fiction: Literacy, Textiles and Activism"

'Fashioning the Self: Identity and Style in British Culture' offers an eclectic approach to contemporary fashion studies.

Taking a broad definition of British culture, this collection of essays explores the significance of style to issues such as colonialism, race, gender and class, embracing topics as diverse as eighteenth-century portraiture, literary dress culture and Edwardian working-class glamour. Examining the emblematic power of garments themselves and the context in which they are styled, this work interrogates the ways that personal style can itself decontextualize garments to radically reframe their meanings. Using an intentionally eclectic range of subjects from an interdisciplinary perspective, this collection builds on the work of theorists such as Aileen Ribeiro, Vika Martina Plock, Cheryl Buckley and Hilary Fawcett, to examine the social significance of personal style, while also highlighting the diversity of British culture itself.

Table of figures

Emily Priscott
Independent scholar
Margaret D. Stetz
University of Delaware

Chapter 1 Creole conversation pieces: portraits in eighteenth-century Jamaica
Chloe Northrop
Tarrant County College, Texas

Chapter 2 Fashion, colonialism and nationalism: changing notions of everyday dress codes in British-colonial Sri Lanka
Ramesha Jayaneththi
University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

Chapter 3 Tilda’s New Hat: a case study in Edwardian fashion and working-class identity
Petra Clark
Independent scholar

Chapter 4 Refashioning spinsterhood: Edith Sitwell’s singular style in British interwar literary culture
Emily Priscott
Independent scholar

Chapter 5 British Jewish identity: Linda Grant as a flâneuse and ‘thoughtful dresser’
Margaret D. Stetz
University of Delaware

List of contributors


Emily Priscott is a social historian and writer. She completed her doctorate in Contemporary History at the University of Sussex in 2019, where she specialized in late-20th-century Gender History. Her thesis formed the basis for her first book, 'Singleness in Britain, 1960-1990: Identity, Gender and Social Change', which was published in 2020 by Vernon Press. Her most recent work focuses on the relationship between fashion, singleness and interwar literary culture, which she built on as the inspiration for this collection - an eclectic volume exploring the relationship between style and identity in British culture.

Eighteenth-century Jamaica, Philip Wickstead, colonialism, slavery, conversation pieces, portraiture, creole, material culture, fashion, Everyday dress codes, nationalism, Sri Lanka, British colonialism, social decorum, body politics, Edwardian drama, Tilda’s New Hat, George Paston (Emily Morse Symonds), East End, Edwardian fashion, feather club, feminism, hats, Edith Sitwell, spinsterhood, singleness, 1920s fashion, interwar literary culture, modernist poetry, Virginia Woolf, Siegfried Sassoon, Cecil Beaton, Linda Grant, flâneuse, British Jewish identity, Second World War, Holocaust, Anita Brookner, New Look, Dior, Chanel, shopping methodology

See also

Bibliographic Information

Book Title

Fashioning the Self: Identity and Style in British Culture





Number of pages


Physical size

236mm x 160mm


24 B&W

Publication date

September 2023