We know that way we dress says a lot about us. It’s drilled into us by our parents as children, as adults throughout our working lives, and eternally from the culture surrounding us. Our dress tells the outside world of the culture and era we come from to our social status within that culture. Our dress can be telling of our political views, religious beliefs, sexuality and countless other identifying traits that we can keep hidden or show to the world by our choice of what to wear when heading venturing out. This was absolutely true, famously so, in the Victorian Era in which men and women alike wore their status on their often lavish, embellished sleeves. In her new book, Dr. Madeleine Seyes explores Victorian culture through the lens of fashion in her new book, Double Threads: Fashion and Victorian Popular Literature, whichsits at the intersection of the fields of Victorian literary studies, dress and material cultural studies, feminist literary criticism, and gender and sexuality studies.
"By narrating a new story inter-weaving literature, dress culture and women’s voices, Madeleine Seys turns what is for many readers the ‘black and white’ Victorian world into colour."
- Peter McNeil, Professor of Design History, UTS
"Fashion and Narrative in Victorian Popular Literature: Double Threads (2017) brings into focus the significance of dress beyond the use of mere description or verisimilitude. Through illuminating study of popular Victorian literary heroines, Seys recasts their appearances and the narratives that they tell through the sartorial lens, revealing the symbolism of dress which may have been lost to the twenty-first-century reader. The study reveals the constructedness of femininity, but it also suggests the difficulties in establishing a definitive aesthetic reading. It is this ambiguity, the constant malleability, the weaving of social, cultural, political and economic discourses which renders the thread metaphor so timelessly apt."
- Alyson Hunt, Wilkie Collins Journal
Introduction: Sartorial and Narrative Threads
Chapter One: White Muslin
Chapter Two: Silk and Velvet
Chapter Three: The Paisley Shawl
Chapter Four: Tweed and Wool