Please upgrade your browser

For the best experience, you should upgrade your browser. Visit our accessibility page to view a list of supported browsers along with links to download the latest version.

Lovisa Willborg Jonsson

MA work

How to Cross-Dress in Eighteenth-Century Sweden: Skills, Props and Audiences

Lovisa's dissertation explores the tradition of cross-dressing in eighteenth-century Sweden. Based on trial records in which women were prosecuted for wearing men’s clothing, this study aims to challenge the grand narratives of fashion and dress history and shed light on non-elite dress cultures. 

Exploring the material culture presented in the source material, allows for an historical exposition of the unofficial ways of acquiring clothes in eighteenth-century Sweden. This, in turn, allows for consideration of the feasibility of cross-dressing. 

The dissertation argues that a widespread second-hand market, a tradition of recycling clothes, along with a general interest for the theatre and dressing up, gave room for the official dress codes to be violated. It reflects an ambiguous fashion system formally regulated by sumptuary laws to maintain social order - a discourse generally resisted by the mainstream.


  • MA Degree


    School of Humanities


    MA History of Design, 2017

  • Lovisa Willborg Jonsson is a design historian with a special interest in early modern fashion and dress. Her work aims to challenge traditional archiving and cataloguing processes, opening up for a multifaceted writing of history. Her MA dissertation explores the tradition of cross-dressing in the early modern period through the lens of queer theory.
  • Degrees

  • MA History of Design, V&A/RCA, 2017; BA Arts Management, Sodertorn University 2013
  • Conferences

  • How to Cross-dress in Early Modern Sweden: Skills, Props & Audiences, INTERWOVEN: Dress that Crosses Borders and Challenges Boundaries, Association of Dress Historians, 27-28 October 2017