In Act 4 Scene 4 of The Winter’s Tale Perdita and her adoptive family celebrate ‘the year growing ancient/ Not yet on summer’s death nor on the birth/ Of trembling winter.’ Perdita is dressed as the Queen of the Feast, her boyfriend (Prince) Florizel disguised as the humble shepherd Doricles. Perdita worries that King Polixenes, Florizel’s father, will pass by and discover their relationship – and while they’re dressed in a way that reverses their social positions. She says,

Or how
Should I, in these my borrow’d flaunts, behold
The sternness of his presence?

Flaunts are extravagant clothes, to flaunt is to show off while wearing them. Of course at this stage no one knows Perdita is a princess.

For an update on The Winter’s Tale, in which everyone wears whatever they like, see Jeanette Winterson’s excellent The Gap of Time.


Image: Andy Warhol