Dressed to Kill: Naval Uniform, Fashion and Masculinity 1748-1830

Ref: C2422617

The aim of this course is to explore the relationship between naval uniform and contemporary fashions between 1748, when the first uniforms for officers were created, to 1857 the sailors were finally given a uniform. During that period the Navy became the largest employer in Britain and their victories in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars spawned the fashion for 'Navy Blue'. The Navy, and their uniform, were lauded in the novels of Fanny Burney and Jane Austen, becoming a masculine ideal. However, something so heavily regulated like uniform also gives us a sense of the shifting standards of masculinity in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Course aim

To explore the relationship between fashion and uniform - looking at how the two influence each other and how uniform is used to create the masculine ideal.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • An understanding of the role of the Royal Navy in eighteenth and nineteenth century Britain.
  • An understanding of the relationship between civilian fashion and uniform.
  • An understanding of changing standards and ideals of masculinity in this period.
  • An understanding of how ideals of masculinity were created through the navy and projected as part of a national identity.

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

An interest in the relationship between uniform and fashion and how it influences us today.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

Dressed to Kill: Naval Uniform, Fashion and Masculinity 1748-1830

Is this course right for me? Request more information

This course has been cancelled.


This course is funded by the Greater London Combined Authority but is also open to residents of other areas.

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2021
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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