Badge, Boot, Button: The Story of Australian Uniforms

Badge, Boot, Button: The Story of Australian Uniforms


Badge, Boot, Button: The Story of Australian Uniforms

Over the centuries, uniforms have played an important part in Australian history, from the landing on Gallipoli to the High Court decision on the Mabo case. They've made soldiers and firefighters braver; humiliated convicts; empowered sporting heroes; both liberated and shackled women; and made corporates fashionable.

In the new book Badge, Boot, Button: The Story of Australian Uniforms (NLA Publishing, $44.99), historian Craig Wilcox provides a fascinating look at the various civilian, corporate, sporting and defence uniforms worn in Australia from 1788 through to today, and how their evolution mirrored a changing nation.

Wilcox examines all aspects of the various uniforms"what they look like, the materials they're made from, how they've changed and what they reveal about Australians and our history. Covering more than 200 years, Badge, Boot, Button examines the uniforms worn by people from all walks of life, including:

convicts, servants and military men and women
sporting teams, school students, scouts, police and nurses
transport workers, emergency service workers and corporate employees
flight attendants, the legal community, and vice-regal and ecclesiastical men and women

Richly illustrated with photographs, drawings, postcards and pages from magazines, Badge, Boot, Button provides a fascinating insight into the role uniforms play in defining and strengthening ties in Australian society.

Craig Wilcox is a historian who lives and writes in Sydney. He has worked at the Australian War Memorial and had fellowships at the National Museum of Australia and the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies in London. His previous books include A Kind of Victory: Captain Charles Cox and His Australian Cavalrymen, published in 2014, and Red Coat Dreaming: How Colonial Australia Embraced the British Army, published in 2009.

Badge, Boot, Button: The Story of Australian Uniforms
NLA Publishing
Author: Craig Wilcox
ISBN: 9780642278937
RRP: $44.99

 

Interview with Craig Wilcox

Question: Why did you decide to write Badge, Boot, Button?

Craig Wilcox: Ten years ago I wrote an entry on Australian uniforms for the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. I tried to write about all kinds of uniforms together as they changed over time, focussing on the big transformations in fabric, cut and colour, but the entry was edited into the traditional occupational tunnels of military, police, airline, nursing etc. Eventually I had another go, this time at book length.


Question: What research went into the book?

Craig Wilcox: I examined outfits held by the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney and the National Library in Canberra, and remembered my encounters with military uniforms in the Australian War Memorial where I've worked on occasion. But I wanted to find out about making and wearing uniforms as well as what they looked like, so I trawled newspapers, letters and diaries, and went through the records of the Clothing and Allied Trades Union at the Australian National University, and the records Vicars, a cloth factory in the next suburb to mine which made uniforms on government contract.


Question: Which type of uniform has had the biggest transformation?

Craig Wilcox: The clothes of hospital nurses have changed completely over the past century, reflecting revolutions in medical care and gender relations. Dark, voluminous dresses and large pinafore aprons gave way after the first world war to pale, lighter, less restrictive tunic dresses, though hoods and plenty of starch preserved a disciplined, deferential, feminine look. In the 1980s nurses began wearing scrubs, a formless overall suit originally devised for a scrubbed or germ-free environment in operating theatres. They now wear an action suit designed for emergencies and almost identical for men and women.


Question: How do uniforms strengthen our society?

Craig Wilcox: Uniforms make us just that little bit more accepting of authority, more a part of some larger entity whether company, school or government. -It's an identity,' a Westpac staffer shrugged when he and his colleagues began wearing a corporate wardrobe in the early 80s.

https://bookshop.nla.gov.au/book/badge-boot-button-the-story-of-australian-uniforms.do


Interview by Brooke Hunter

Badge, Boot, Button: The Story of Australian Uniforms
NLA Publishing
Author: Craig Wilcox
ISBN: 9780642278937
RRP: $44.99




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