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Dress: Fancy: The Podcast About Dressing Up

Oct 4, 2018

In today’s episode Lucy Clayton and Dr Benjamin Wild analyse how people’s social, political and gendered roles are disrupted by war. Fancy dress costume, which offers escapism and self-reflection by enabling its wearer to become somebody or something else, can mediate these tensions. From women who dressed as men to fight in America’s Civil War, to allied sailors who survived a Mid-Atlantic torpedo attack dressed as Nazi officials in WWII, Lucy and Ben consider the harrowing and heartening place of costume in conflicts throughout history.

So what makes fancy dress prevalent during times of military conflict? How are costumed warriors perceived by their contemporaries? And just what did they wear?


Feast your eyes and get involved on our Instagram page @dressfancypodcast



Lucy Clayton

Twitter: @MsLucyClayton

Instagram: @mslucyclayton


Dr Benjamin Wild FRHistS

Twitter: @DrBenjaminWild

Instagram: @benjamin__wild


Find out more:

To put the discussion of WWI and WWII into its proper context, and to access the archives discussed, visit

London School of Economics and Political Science - Library -  Suffragette Collections, Elsie Edith Bowerman (1889-1973) -

Find out more about Bletchley Park, ‘Home of the Codebreakers’ -

Cross-dressing soldiers in WWI featured in a recent exhibition, 'Under Cover: A Secret History of Cross-Dressers', at For the exhibition guide, see Sébastian Lifshitz, Mauvais Genre: Les travestis à travers un siècle de photographie amateur (Paris, 2016).

Women in History. Heroic cross-dressing women warriors of Civil War including Frances Clayton (1830 - after 1863) and Lizzie Hoffman -

For an in-depth discussion of the role of women in the American Civil War, see DeAnne Blanton and Lauren M. Cook, They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the American Civil War (Stroud, 2002).

Land Girls - Film 1998