The Costume Society

Richard Cavendishon the modes and manners of the Costume Society

To dress is human. Costume is a consequence of original sin, according to the Book of Genesis. Once Adam and Eve had eaten the fatal fruit, the first thing they did was to make themselves clothes. This followed their becoming self-conscious, or human in effect, and certainly the wearing of clothes is one of the things which distinguish human beings from the other animals.

Far from being merely a record of passing fashion, the history of costume covers a huge range and richness of human experience. Clothes are a way of hiding the body while exhibiting what is inward character, status, rank, sanctity, power (there is nothing at all new about 'power dressing'). Because everyone wears garments, they play a particularly revealing part in social history and economic history. They have always been significant in religion, in war, armour and uniform, in the context of courts and ceremonial of ail kinds, in sport, the theatre and entertainment, in relation to social distinctions and all the critical moments in life from birth to death and mourning.

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