Fashion and the world of the women of the VOC official elite
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During the early modern period material culture increasingly started to serve as symbols of identity and status rather than merely fulfilling a basic need. One example of such possessions that was particularly relevant for demonstrating social position was clothing. By using markers of distinction such as clothing, individuals could affirm or reaffirm their identities and could denote an association with a certain status group. At the Cape, this means of distinction was employed by the social elite that consisted of a small group of senior officials with the Governor at the head. The Governor was appointed by the VOC and in all cases but one, was not locally born. Equally, many members of the VOC elite were temporarily stationed at the Cape and would return to Europe or move to another VOC station at the end of their tenure, most often taking their wives and daughters with them. The aim of this article is to discuss women belonging to the VOC elite of Cape society and to determine whether these women maintained their status through the use of status objects (in particular clothing and other items used for personal adornment). The second aim of the article is to assess what effect this use of clothing as a symbol of status had on the social consciousness surrounding the importance or unimportance of particular objects. The article will also aim to determine how these women in the top echelons of Cape society influenced and determined what types of fashion, dress and accessories were seen as status objects.