As a historian of fashion, dress, and the body, I publish original scholarship on African dress, contemporary Islamic fashion, and working-class histories of dress in the US. My topical interests include uniforms, political rhetoric and lawmaking about dress, museum collections, and secret society regalia. I also use historical research to write historical fiction.
When I'm not working I enjoy hiking, genealogy, spending time with my pets and teenage children, and watching costume dramas grounded in history like Call the Midwife, Outlander, and The Crown.
Examples of recent articles
Food Service Uniforms and the Symbolism(s) of Wearing a Mask (2020)
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, ‘essential workers’ in the United States ‐ including nurses, delivery drivers, grocery clerks and waitresses ‐ bore the brunt of extreme scepticism over public health measures such as lockdowns and wearing facemasks. Conflicting messages from the president, the Centers for Disease Control and state and local governments turned mask mandates into political battles. Some businesses chose to require masks for employees and/or customers, but others refused to allow them as part of the uniform.
Playing Pocahontas: Secret Society Regalia for Women in the United States, 1900-1950 (2021)
Secret societies such as the Freemasons and Odd Fellows were very popular in the United States during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. This article explores how members of a little-known (but uniquely American) secret society for women—known as the Degree of Pocahontas—used regalia to carry out their rituals and to engage in abstract concepts such as “womanhood” and “leadership.”
Prison Uniforms on the Outside: Intersections with US Popular Culture (2020)
With the United States having the highest rate of incarceration in the world ‐ peaking in 2008 at 755 prisoners for every 100,000 residents ‐ it is not surprising that American popular culture is saturated with images of prison. Although the experience of being in prison is associated with humiliation, punishment and a lack of choice (which is antithetical to the existence of fashion), numerous films, television shows, music videos, designers and retailers have demystified and even glamorized the ‘look’ of prison.
Freedom of Speech: A Recent History of Political T-Shirts in the United States (2019)
Since their invention in the 1930s, t-shirts have become one of the most common styles of casual clothing in the United States ‐ worn by all ages, genders and social classes. Although ‘graphic’ t-shirts have existed for decades, twenty-first-century technologies have made them much faster and easier to produce. Students protesting the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 1970s wore black armbands and grew their hair long; today, students (and activists of all ages) are more likely to wear political t-shirts.