Themes: Clothing

Styles of dress in rural East Anglia

Informal dress in rural areas

What people wear, especially when working outdoors in East Anglia, largely depends on the weather. T-shirt and jeans are common for both men and women in the summer, to which are added jumpers, coats and waterproofs at other times of year. Footwear varies depending on the situation, but on farms wellington boots are essential.  In the past, both men and women usually covered their heads, even when carrying out tasks such as ploughing.


Dressing up for special occasions

As in all cultures, East Anglians love to dress up for special occasions.  Weddings and other family occasions allow men to wear suits, sometimes with a flower (buttonhole); while women often wear hats and colourful dresses. Traditional dancing also often requires special clothes, especially when people are dancing in teams. Morris dancers tend to wear white, with colourful hats, ribbons and usually bells on their ankles. Other examples of dressing up include the ceremonial garments worn by town officials and vestments worn by members of the clergy.


Face-painting and tattoos

In daily life, tattooing is much more common than it was twenty years ago, with designs tending to be less all-over than before and based more on geometric patterns rather than the traditional figurative work once popular with sailors.  Face painting is also more widely practised, and extremely popular with children.  Other people who paint their faces include molly dancers, based on a tradition of blacking which served as a disguise.