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Fashion and Women's Attitudes in the…

Fashion and Women's Attitudes in the Nineteenth Century (1935)

by C. Willett Cunnington

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The author's smug and superior style irritated me no end, and his analysis of fashion is uninformed and dated. (Remember that this work is over 70 years old.) For example:

"We can recognise, now, that the Fashions of the 19th century were far from being mere accidents, but were, each in their way, singularly appropriate to the attitude of mind expected of a woman by the man of her world. By her appearance, manner and mode of life, she expressed his ideal: romantic or doll-like or dignified, as the case may be. . . . In our own post-war years, for example, when owing to economic difficulties, the young man of that day, shrinking from the idea of marriage and a family, preferred the un-maternal type of girl, immediately there was produced a supply amounting to a glut; hair was cropped schoolboy fashion, breasts were obliterated by compressors, slimming practised to remove the last traces of feminine curves--a process demanding extraordinary self-denial--and masculine clothing and habits borrowed in the effort to obliterate the 'Eternal Feminine'."

Actually, the era of the flapper was one of prosperity, and I never read anything about a drop in the marriage rate after WWI.

Illustrations are few; only eight in a book of 350 pages, so it's of little value as fashion history. The value here is from the quotes from the publications of the day, especially the women's magazines, and other stray bits, such as the state of governesses around the time Jane Eyre was published. Alas, there is no index. ( )
  IreneF | Nov 14, 2008 |
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To C.B. Mortlock:

In the good old days of Victorian melodrama it was customary for the Betrayed to lay her offspring on the Villain's doorstep, and then rush blindly into the snowstorm. As you, morally at least, are responsible for this book, it is fitting that your name should stand here in a white sheet.... For me, the snowstorm....
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0486431908, Paperback)

Enlivened with extracts from novels, correspondence from columns in ladies' magazines, and fashion descriptions, the volume traces changes in feminine dress throughout the 1800s. A carefully researched work on a fascinating subject, this book appeals to a wide audience: from feminists to costume designers. Collection of period advertisements. 8 black-and-white illustrations.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:16 -0400)

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