Social and Political Meanings of Clothing Pre- to Post-Revolution



The preceding chapters demonstrated that the partisan animosities and perceptions that defined pro- and anti-treaty discourses were heavily colored by divergent social outlooks and assumptions, but crucially, that these had more to do with contested measures and notions of status or respectability than with rigid socioeconomic conceptions of class. According to Weberian theory, social status is ‘conditioned as well as expressed through a specific lifestyle’, with lifestyle defined as ‘the totality of cultural practices such as dress, speech, outlook and bodily dispositions’.1 For the historian of so status-conscious a society as early twentieth-century Ireland, this suggests that attention must be paid to a range of quotidian phenomena rarely engaged with by political and military historians, from popular consumption patterns, to material cultural items like clothing, furniture, and housing, to caste and class markers like religion, education, occupation, and political affiliation. The present chapter will continue exploring the ‘politics of respectability’ in the civil war split by turning to the sartorial realm, clothing being arguably ‘the most universal medium whereby people all over the world make statements to claim status, in the widest meaning of the term’.2 In the context of the Irish Civil War, I would go further and argue that, along with its more obvious social status connotations, clothing also carried political meanings, and that the two layers of meaning were, in fact, deeply interwoven.


Political Meaning Home Rule Republican Movement Irish Language Formal Wear 
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Copyright information

© Gavin Maxwell Foster 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Concordia UniversityCanada

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