Do Clothes Make Germans? Class, Gender, and National Belonging


Clothing had immense social significance in Early Modern society, not least because it expressed membership in social groups. Society was organized according to class and gender, and these differences were reflected in class-specific dress codes. Noblemen wore different clothes than peasants, and members of the clergy used clerical garb to differentiate themselves from laymen. Clothing made the social order visible at all times in everyday life. In addition to signifying class and gender, clothing could also be used to assert a certain national affiliation or identity that could be projected to the outside world. Clothing thematized difference and was a way of demarcating one nation and its fashions from another.


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