Between the Visible and the Invisible, the Practical and the Ornamental
The Body Linen of the Viennese, 1760–1823
Schlagworte:underclothes, Vienna, material culture, consumption, eighteenth century
Vienna in the period 1760–1823 was part of an abundant and expansive European world of goods. This article examines a specific cluster of goods, namely body linen, which encompassed underclothes and accessories that people wore in public and served both aesthetic and practical functions. Using a quantitative analysis of the Viennese probate inventories, this essay examines the trends of ownership of these goods in the Viennese middle and lower social strata. It focuses on the differences in number and material, and associates these trends with European-wide patterns of ownership and consumption. Moreover, it shows how variations in the ownership of body linen affect certain aspects of its social role: its influence on clothing luxury and respectable appearance, and its role in new ideals of cleanliness and hygiene.