The Archaeology of Clothing and Bodily Adornment in Colonial America
Dress has always been a social medium. Color, fabric, and fit of clothing, along with adornments, posture, and manners, convey information on personal status, occupation, religious beliefs, and even sexual preferences. Clothing and adornment are therefore important not only for their utility but also in their expressive properties and the ability of the wearer to manipulate those properties.
Diana DiPaolo Loren investigates some ways in which colonial peoples chose to express their bodies and identities through clothing and adornment. She examines strategies of combining local-made and imported goods not simply to emulate European elites, but instead to create a language of new appearance by which to communicate in an often contentious colonial world.
Through the lens of historical archaeology Loren highlights the active manipulation of the material culture of clothing and adornment by people in English, Dutch, French, and Spanish colonies, demonstrating that within Northern American dressing traditions, clothing and identity are inextricably linked.