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Title: Staymakers of London: Production, Consumption, and Body Transformation, 1680-1810
Author: Sorge-English, Lynn Marion
ISNI:       0000 0001 3471 8115
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2008
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There are scholarly studies on various aspects of eighteenth-century tailoring and men's clothing, but none on the equally important branch of tailoring - staymaking. For most of the century male staymaking tailors created the most intimate garment for women - stays - raising questions related to gender, class, identity-formation, bodily health and aesthetics on the one hand, and, on the other hand, to production and consumption of stays, and the degree to which they transformed the body at all stages of the life cycle. Male staymakers did not have a monopoly on the trade, however, as females began to take a primary role in staymaking during the last two decades of the century, giving rise to questions about the masculinazation and feminization of stays-design as the century drew to a close. Moving thematically from production to consumption, the thesis seeks to make an original and valuable contribution to the place of a little-known trade in the trades history of Britain in general, and of London in particular. In doing so, it makes a number of discoveries, including the periodization of the separation of staymaking from tailoring, the gender differentiation of staymakers late in the century, the placement of the staymaker in his/her urban and working environment, details of stays-wearing through the life cycle, staymakers' relationships with their clients, the masculinization and feminization of stays-design, and the aesthetic, seductive and erotic qualities of stays, among others. The thesis takes a novel approach to its choice of sources, introducing an invaluable staymaker's diary never before used as a source of trades history, and calling upon the Old Bailey Proceedings, for example. The methodology used is innovative, as well. Combining a traditional textual approach with methods centering on material-culture and visual-imagery analyses allows for the contextualization of the staymaking trade from the widest possible perspective. The thesis argues that staymaking had a profound influence on transforming the female body to conform to fashionable silhouettes in Britain 1680 - 1810. In discussing relationships between working staymakers and their clients from the upper, middling and lower sorts, it illuminates wider issues pertaining to gender, class and society overall.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available