Mrs Rachel Neal

Job: Fully-funded PhD Researcher

Faculty: Arts, Design and Humanities

School/department: School of Design

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH

T: N/A



Personal profile

Rachel is a PhD Researcher in Dress History of the Twentieth Century, in particular exploring men’s everyday dress of the First World War and the interwar period, 1918-1939. Her research looks at how the War had an impact on men’s dress and how menswear culture developed in the interwar years.

Following a ten year career as a menswear designer, Rachel completed an MA in Fashion History at De Montfort University before starting her PhD. Her PhD research focuses on the narratives of lived experience that are embodied by everyday dress.

Rachel’s approach to research is influenced by her experience as a designer and focuses on materiality, engaging in object-based research along with archival material to develop a more intimate history of dress as it was experienced.

Research group affiliations

Research interests/expertise

  • Everyday Fashion and Dress History
  • Interwar Dress History
  • First World War and Dress 
  • Second World War and Dress
  • Menswear
  • Clothing and Dress in Museums
  • Clothing and Identity
  • Everyday Dress and Lived Experience
  • Design History
  • Social History


MA (Distinction) Fashion History – 2018 De Montfort University
BA (Hons) Fashion Design – 2007 Birmingham City University

Conference attendance

‘Demobilisation and Deconstructing the First World War Uniform: Material approaches to the embodied narratives of dress’ at School of Design Research Seminar, De Montfort University Leicester, October 2019

‘Everyday Dress and the Embodied Narratives of Lived Experience’ at Crossing Disciplinary Divides, PGR Symposium, De Montfort University Leicester, September 2019

‘Refashioning the Civilian Soldier: Removing the Khaki British Army Uniform and Reconstructing a Civilian Identity in Everyday Clothes’ at Legacies Conference, International Society for First World War Studies, Leeds University, September 2019

‘Resonating the Narrative of Human Presence Through Everyday Dress’ at Private Dress and Textiles Conference, Centre for the History of Retailing and Distribution, Wolverhampton University, June 2019

PhD project

PhD title

Refashioning the Civilian Soldier: Deconstructing the First World War Army Uniform and Re-embodying Civilian Dress


The research investigates the narratives of First World War demobilisation and civilian reconstruction through the lens of dress history. The research is examining the material shift from army uniform into civilian clothing, the legacy of the uniform and the impact of clothing on the sense of self. The study looks to build a qualitative history of men’s everyday dress, exploring lived experience of clothing in the years following the war.


Ruth Jindal, Mark Bradshaw, Grahame Hudson