Faculty Publications

Document Type

Book Chapter

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The Routledge History of Fashion and Dress, 1800 to the Present

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The purpose of this chapter is to place the rise and use of national and ethnic dress into a historical context. Using an extensive review of journal articles and book chapters focused on national and ethnic dress, historical nationalistic and colonizing trends were examined in the use of clothing and dress. National dress was introduced through the continued rise of nationalism and colonialism in European and Western countries. Western imperialism at first erased identities of indigenous groups, but later had the unintended consequence of creating an appetite for subjugated people to establish a new national identity to reassert their sovereignty, using dress as a visual representation of empowerment and the ability to self-govern. Under global migration, which has increased due to technological advances in the nineteenth and twentieth century, ethnic dress adopts new meaning to align immigrants with their national origins. Authoritarian regimes also used national dress to create cohesion in the nation-state population. Though visual national classification using dress was first used in European cultures and contexts, the dress practice has spread internationally empowering visual self-definition and agency in a world of shifting political and cultural identities.


School of Applied Human Sciences

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UNI ScholarWorks, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa



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