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Slater, A., 2023.

Remembering Respectability

Output Type:Chapter in a book
Publication:Memories of Dress
Brief Description/Editor(s):Slater, A., Atkin, S., Kealy-Morris, E.
Publisher:Bloomsbury Visual Arts
Pagination:pp. 39-58
Number of Works:10

The chapter explores memories of working-class female dress in Lancashire, England, during the Second World War alongside literature on memory. It considers the limited clothing items owned and the significance of sociocultural attitudes, particularly the notion of respectability, on dress and appearance. Recollections of a process of recycling where new items were initially worn for best, then for work, then at home, are used to explain wartime findings from Mass-Observation's study of Worktown on the importance of dressing up to present a smart and clean visual identity. The chapter identifies generational differences in collective memories of dress, articulated by the younger interviewees' memories of their mothers' clothing. Generic memories of 'making do' are contrasted with significant personal episodic memories of wartime life, narrated through recollected experiences of dress seventy years later. The epilogue reflects on Slater's role in shaping and sharing this collective memory of dress.