As “a hedge, as a convenience, a good thing”: Elizabeth Petipher Cash’s continued fashioning of a Plain appearance

Hannah Rumball

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


From the 1670s, British members of The Religious Society of Friends, better known as Quakers, developed a style of dress to mark out its members. It was striking for its simplicity and termed Plain. It served as “a hedge, a convenience, a good thing – the clergyman of the parish then knew who were Friends and expected certain things of them.” Women Quakers used their Plain garments to resist mainstream fashion, distinguishing them as sartorially and socially separate. In 1860 however, many British Quaker women chose to abandon their Plain garments in favour of highly-fashionable clothes, when the religion’s hierarchy made them optional. Other British Quaker women however, continued to resist the snares of fashionable dress. These women determinably fashioned their Plain clothing as a marker of extreme piety, a marker that, in their religion, was rapidly falling from favour.
This paper will examine the sartorial choices of the British Quaker woman, Elizabeth Petipher Cash. It considers Cash’s reasons for challenging the norms of fashionable clothing by resisting to incorporate mainstream styles until 1894. It will examine her surviving garments held at Killerton House National Trust Devon, alongside her surviving writings. Furthermore, Pierre Bordieu alongside Petr Bogatyrev’s theories serve as a framework to illustrate how Plain and fashionable dress were treated as opposing forces that were constantly weighed and negotiated by Quaker women mindful of the power of dress to express resistance or conformity.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 15 Feb 2019
EventCAA Annual Conference - New York, New York, United States
Duration: 13 Feb 201916 Feb 2019


ConferenceCAA Annual Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNew York
Internet address


  • Fashion
  • resistance
  • Quaker
  • Women
  • nineteenth century
  • Adaptation
  • Conformance


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