Organised by the European-wide ACORSO Research Interest Group ‘Tailoring for Women 1750 – 1930’, this two-day conference entitled The Global Diffusion of Tailored Clothes for Women 1750 – 1930 seeks papers exploring the diffusion of design, manufacture, technology, products, material culture, retailing, trade, commerce, and the related sartorial etiquette of tailored clothes for women specifically between 1750 and 1930.

In this period between 1750 and 1930, a greater proportion of socioeconomic classes and a global market increasingly gained access to tailored clothes for women. Tailored garments for women would also have been used by the colonial ruling classes as a signal of their continued Western sartorial tastes while in India, Africa and other colonised regions. Underpinning this access was diffusion – enabled by trans-national trade routes, the mass communication possible via printed literature, changes to production methods and developments in technology, retail innovations, etiquette, emigration, immigration, and colonialism. This conference seeks papers which chart the diffusion of women’s tailored clothing from country to country via these paths.


Women’s tailoring may be defined as bespoke, made to measure, ready-to-wear or mass manufactured garments made for women, usually but not always, in woollen cloth, by tailors or those using tailoring skills and processes. Within this classification, the production skills required to qualify a garment as tailored may include the use of professional tailors’ pattern cutting, basting or pressing-off. Between the period 1750 to 1930 such tailored garments would have been procurable from couture salons, department stores, individual tailoring establishments and wholesale ready-to-wear companies as well as through the second-hand clothes trade. The requirement of expert cutting by skilled dressmakers who made fashionable woollen garments, however, placed their practice when making such items closer to the work being undertaken by tailors, and thus for this conference we wish to include their relevant stories too.


Specific themes of interest for this call for papers include, but are not limited to:

  • The transnational trade in made-to-measure and ready-made tailored garments for women.
  • The design diffusion and transnational trade in textiles used to make tailored clothes for women.
  • The transnational diffusion of couture tailored clothing styles for women. We are especially interested in evidence of those made and marketed both in European and American salons.
  • The role of tailor’s and (to a lesser extent) dressmaker’s pattern and cutting books in the transnational diffusion of tailored styles and making-up methods.
  • The transnational transference and diffusion of codes of etiquette related to the wearing of tailored clothes for women during this period, especially those related to time and place.
  • The emigration and immigration of the diaspora of tailors who were making tailored clothes for women, their practices, and their personal stories.
  • The dissemination of Anglo-European women’s tailored clothing styles as an act of colonialism and imperialism.
  • Developments in, and the transnational diffusion of, wholesale workshop and factory production of women’s tailored garments.
  • Developments in, and the transnational distribution networks of, manufacturing technology, machinery, and processes for the production of women’s tailored garments.
  • The use of photographs, etiquette manuals, patterns, cutting manuals or advertisements to trace the global and/or transnational diffusion of women’s tailoring styles and techniques from country to country.


Submission and Deadline:

We invite proposals for illustrated papers of 20 minutes. This conference will take place online. Deadline 30th June 2022. Please submit your proposal via our Calls for Papers portal, here: