ISSN: 20500742
First published in 2014
3 issues per volume
Volume 4 Issue 1
Cover Date: March 2017
Gertrude Savile’s green damask: A case study of clothing reuse and alteration in eighteenth-century England
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Authors:  Carolyn Dowdell 
DOI: 10.1386/cc.4.1.29_1

eighteenth century,England,textiles,dressmaking,clothing alteration,clothing reuse,consumption

In February 1745, English gentlewoman Gertrude Savile paid the large sum of almost 24 pounds (not including labour) for a gold-trimmed green damask sack dress with matching petticoat. The opulence of these materials and their high cost would have made for a rich, formal ensemble. Despite regular acquisitions of other fine textiles and clothes, the green damask reappeared in Savile’s account books numerous times over the ensuing decade. Thanks to her meticulous account-keeping, we find that Savile’s gown was retrimmed and made over multiple times and that leftover materials were used to fashion additional items such as pairs of shoes. The obvious motive behind these activities is thrift; however, by the time the green damask entered her life, she was a woman of significant independent means. And from the loose narrative, or lifestory, of this ensemble, several additional thematic threads may be teased: the practical interaction between women and fashion during the eighteenth century; the changing functions and status of garments within an individual’s wardrobe; aspects of personal taste and attachment to garments and even relationships and marks of affection between women.
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