Fashioned from Penury: Dress as Cultural Practice in Colonial Australia

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It is a common belief that Australians take little interest in their appearance. Yet from the first white settlement, clothing was of crucial importance to Australians. It was central to the ways class and status were negotiated and equally significant for marking out sexual differences. Dress was implicated in definitions of morality, in the relationship between Europeans and Aboriginal people, and between convict and free. This 1994 book, a history of the cultural practices of dress rather than an account of fashion, reveals the broader historical and cultural implications of clothes in Australia for the first time. It shows that the colonies did not always slavishly follow British fashion, and also looks at the impact of the gold field experience on Australian dress, the nature of local manufacturing and retail outlets, and the way in which rural men and their bush dress, rather than women's dress, became closely related to Australian identity.