The Dutch Revolt that afflicted the Habsburg Netherlands engendered a sense of social dislocation. From the late sixteenth century onwards, the alleged confusion of noble and bourgeois identities prompted a princely regulation of status display. These legal prescriptions imbued certain exterior signs with an exclusive 'noble' honour that confined their public appearance. Departing from a dynamic interplay between princely interventionism and social motives, this research project examines the public (mis)appropriation of such signs – ranging from flaunting titles to the inclusion of noble attributes in family memoria. It questions how these transgressions might have affected the division between nobility and commoners in unexpected ways. For the first time, this project systematically appraises noble marks' potential to enact or modify aristocratic boundaries in an urban context. Case studies on Antwerp and Ghent, both witnessing shifts in their elite composition during the Revolt, will draw on understudied sources such as epitaph collections and trial accounts. The loyalist city of Namur forms an excellent test case. Challenging a simplistic state-centered view, my approach hypothesizes that the social utility of 'marks of nobility' met insecurities about fading distinctions by providing a legal opportunity to renegotiate these very distinctions. As such, the project rethinks noble identity formation, and yields a new understanding of shifts in the social imagination.