WOMEN'S DRESS IN NINETEENTH-CENTURY ISTANBUL: MIRROR OF A CHANGING SOCIETY (OTTOMAN COSTUME, WESTERNIZATION, TURKEY)

NANCY MICKLEWRIGHT, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

During the nineteenth century, many Istanbul women adopted the fashions of Europe. The change in dress accompanied other changes in Ottoman society often attributed to increasing contact between the Ottomans and Europeans. Neither the transformation in fashion nor the westernisation of Ottoman society is completely understood. Through an examination of garments from Istanbul, and other contemporary sources, this dissertation documents the process by which women's traditional dress was replaced by European styles. The thesis also develops an approach to costume studies using art historical methods. Further, the process of westernization within an Islamic society is investigated from the perspective of fashion. After the introduction, Chapter Two discusses approaches to the study of dress. Chapters Three and Four are overviews of the political and economic history of the nineteenth century Ottoman empire. Few garments survive, making it necessary to look to other sources often essential to costume historians: contemporary photographs, diaries, newspapers and paintings. A fifth important source is a series of manuscripts illustrating Ottoman costume. These sources are described and their relative usefulness assessed in Chapter Five. The process of costume change in Istanbul is discussed in the next three chapters. In Chapter Six a paradigm for the fashion changes is set out, based on sources described previously. Information provided by the garments is presented in Chapter Seven and the data from both chapters compared to arrive at an understanding of fashion change. The availability of imported goods, transfer of fashion technology, and other issues are explored in Chapter Eight. A complete description for each garment is provided in the Appendix. Conclusions are presented in Chapter Nine. The adoption of European clothing by Istanbul women reflected changing values of Ottoman society. The rate of fashion change was directly related to the numbers of Europeans in Istanbul, and to the greater availability of European goods. Despite radical differences in appearance, social functions of dress remained essentially the same: the display of wealth, and social identification. Adoption of European costume depended on wealth, social position, and exposure to new styles. The uneven rate at which new fashions were adopted confirms what has been noted elsewhere: that nineteenth century Ottoman society was no longer as well-ordered and clearly organised as it once may have been.

Subject Area

Fine Arts

Recommended Citation

MICKLEWRIGHT, NANCY, "WOMEN'S DRESS IN NINETEENTH-CENTURY ISTANBUL: MIRROR OF A CHANGING SOCIETY (OTTOMAN COSTUME, WESTERNIZATION, TURKEY)" (1986). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI8614840.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI8614840

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