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 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.
"How refreshing to discover that such an intelligent book title crowns and equally thought-provoking text! We are treated from the very start to some of the best commentary I have read about the discipline of costume research." Rags "In her scholarly, multi-faceted study, Maynard...dispels myths entrenched in romanticized patriarchical, economic, and industrial forces...Recommended for comprehensive collections in costume history and Australian studies at all levels." M. F. Morris, Choice "...an original, engrossing treatment of a fascinating subject...[A] fresh and vivid picture of nineteenth century Australia emerges. Copious well-chosen illustrations constitute an attractive supplement to the text. Making excellent use of literary sources, Maynard convincingly refutes the common view, both then and now, that Australian dress merely imitated British styles." Thomas E. Tausky, Australian and New Zealand Studies in Canada "Well researched and well presented, this book usefully extends the study of the history of fashion into hitherto unexplored territory." Valerie Steele, American Historical Review