‘Take measure of your wide and flaunting garments’: The farthingale, gender and the consumption of space in Elizabethan and Jacobean England

Journal article


Bendall, Sarah A.. (2018). ‘Take measure of your wide and flaunting garments’: The farthingale, gender and the consumption of space in Elizabethan and Jacobean England. Renaissance Studies. 33(5), pp. 712-737. https://doi.org/10.1111/rest.12537
AuthorsBendall, Sarah A.
Abstract

Farthingales were large stiffened structures placed beneath a woman’s skirts in order to push them out and enlarge the lower half of the body. During the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods in England criticisms of these garments increasingly focused on their spatial ramifications, decrying their monstrous size and inconvenience. Nonetheless farthingales served important social and cultural functions for women in early modern England, shaping and defining status and wealth in both court and urban spaces. Using surviving textual and visual sources, as well as engaging with the process of historical dress reconstruction, this article argues that spatial anxieties relating to farthingales were less about the actual size of this garment and more related to older fears concerning the ability of farthingales to create intimate personal spaces around the female body, mask the appropriation of social status, and physically displace men. In turn, these anxieties led to the establishment of a common and enduring trope regarding the monstrous size of these garments as women in farthingales were perceived to be challenging their social and gendered place in the world.

Keywordsdress; space; gender
Year2018
JournalRenaissance Studies
Journal citation33 (5), pp. 712-737
PublisherWiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
ISSN0269-1213
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1111/rest.12537
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85055714670
Research or scholarlyResearch
Page range712-737
Publisher's version
License
All rights reserved
File Access Level
Controlled
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online28 Oct 2018
Publication process dates
Deposited01 Jun 2021
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