‘Wearing my mother’s laces’: Experiential History Through Dress by Lauren Spallone
What does an altered eighteenth century dress tell us about making and remaking a dress as historiography? In recent decades, scholars have discussed an ‘affective turn’ in the research of history, describing a movement to include experiential, implicit, or tactile elements in historical research. This article will focus specifically on the practice of making, altering, and wearing historical clothing as a means of discovering the past. As a case study, a late eighteenth century muslin dress will be examined, along with an entry from the diary of Virginia Woolf. The reconstruction and wearing of historical garments have long been employed as methods of exploring an ‘embodied’ past, and have the potential to provide valuable insight that would be unattainable through textual or visual sources alone.