Grief may be a universal emotion, but its social expression in mourning is culturally specific. Individual grief experienced at the death of another human being is expressed collectively in culturally prescribed ways of mourning.
This illustrated slide lecture will explore the development of mourning dress and etiquette from the middle ages to the present. The history of sumptuary laws, elaborate rules for stages of mourning, and the special clothing to be worn by the bereaved, and especially by widows, will be discussed.
We will explore the differences and similarities in mourning practices between different social strata, and their reflection of social ambitions and aspirations. The use and prescription of particular colors, styles and textiles for mourning clothing will be considered. The importance of outward signs of bereavement and their usefulness to the grieving individual will be discussed.