Clothes, Culture and Crafts - Dress and Fashion among Artisans and Small Shopkeepers in the Danish town of Elsinore 1550–1650

Anne-Kristine Sindvald Larsen

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph


This dissertation explores the sixteenth and seventeenth-century clothing culture in relation to men and women of artisanal status. It investigates what clothing artisans and their wives wore in everyday lives and on festive occasions and how they connected with contemporary codes of fashion. Based on a study of 294 inventories from the Danish port town of Elsinore from 1573-1650, the dissertation provides a unique insight into what people of lower social status wore. The dissertation is divided into three parts. The first part of the study looks into the most common garments, accessories, materials and colours of their wardrobe, as well as considering what options men and women of lower rank had for acquiring and commissioning clothing. Moreover, it explores how articles of clothing were not only seen as personal items but were used and circulated as an economic currency that could be turned into cash. Part two deals with the more practical sides of clothing and how clothes were used in local society to reveal ambitions and professional achievements. It explores how local artisans in Elsinore wore and produced linen and how they engaged in the processes of laundering and mending their clothes to keep themselves well-groomed for themselves and for the public. Furthermore, it investigates clothes in relation to work and weather, examining the durability and practical aspects of their wardrobe. Lastly, it shows how clothes mattered socially, professionally and economically in everyday life and in public, and how they could be important in relation to one’s future ambitions, rank, reputation and social identity. Part three considers how clothing was used to express status and social ambitions and fashion knowledge at public and festive events. This includes a study of how artisans and their wives wore fine silks, expensive fur and leather as well as costly jewellery and dress ornamentations of gold and silver, to show off their social aspirations. It moreover explores the role of clothing and accessories at festive and social occasions in town, such as weddings and churchgoing, that were also important life events for people of the artisanal levels of society. Lastly, it illustrates how men and women incorporated novelties, small accessories such as hats, stockings and sleeves into their wardrobe, but also fashionable expensive and low-cost clothing items such as trimmings and garments made of materials that mimicked the properties of their superiors. The study aims to demonstrate that fashion and the desire to dress well was not limited to the wealthy elites of the society, but that common skilled artisans such as people working in the textile, metal or wood trades or producing food or services in local society, also used garments made in fine and innovative materials and adorned themselves with accessories and trimmings as a cheaper way of engaging with popular trends.
Translated title of the contributionClothes, Culture and Crafts - Dress and Fashion among Artisans and Small Shopkeepers in the Danish town of Elsinore 1550–1650
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Hohti, Paula, Supervising Professor
  • Hohti, Paula, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-64-1272-6
Electronic ISBNs978-952-64-1273-3
Publication statusPublished - 2023
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)


  • clothing
  • fashion
  • culture
  • history
  • arts


Dive into the research topics of 'Clothes, Culture and Crafts - Dress and Fashion among Artisans and Small Shopkeepers in the Danish town of Elsinore 1550–1650'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this