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Bonnets, Muffs and Trinkets, Oh My! Conspicuous Consumption of Prostitutes in London

Bonnets, Muffs and Trinkets, Oh My! Conspicuous Consumption of Prostitutes in London 

Seketa, Stephanie

Constructing the Medieval and Early Modern across Discipline – Selected Proceedings of the Newberry Center for Renaissance Studies 2011 Multidisciplinary Graduate Student Conference 

Abstract

Since Veblen first coined the phrase “conspicuous consumption” in 1899, scholars in multiple fields have used the phrase as given terminology along with other familiar ones such as the “Veblen Effect.” In studies of fashion it has often been paired with the “Trickle-Down Theory” of Georg Simmel, first published in 1904. In this essay I will discuss these theories as they apply specifically to the subculture of full-time prostitutes in eighteenth and nineteenth-century London. Here, I will suggest that the conspicuous consumption of fashion by female prostitutes can be better understood using Simmel and Veblen’s theories, but that this is only one layer in understanding the consumption patterns of these women whose re-adaptation of fashion accessories was a primary symbol of group belonging.

Click here to read this article from Constructing the Medieval and Early Modern across Discipline 

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