Clothing / Object Analysis – A Suggested Methodology
When scholars examine objects or artifacts, including dress and
accessories, the study is called material culture. There are many
academic sources on this topic including a dedicated journal, the
Journal of Material Culture which you can search.
This stage asks for a clear, concise description of the object.
What are the physical dimensions and features of the piece? What
colour, shape, size is it? How is it constructed and which materials
have been used? Is the item complete or is it a fragment? Has the
object ever been altered, adapted or repaired? Because you have
access to the object this is the time to get out tape measure,
magnifying glass, sketching materials, etc and to take several CLEAR
photographs of it.
This stage involves a more open reflection on the interaction between
the object and the perceiver.
What would it be like to wear? How does it compare with other
examples? Is it typical? What does it reveal about the owners’ taste,
their wealth, their status and aspirations, their social customs and
Finally, the process of analysis leads to broader questions which reflect
both on the material nature of clothing itself and its status in history
and culture. This stage is whe