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How to Read a Dress: A Guide to Changing…
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How to Read a Dress: A Guide to Changing Fashion from the 16th to the 20th… (edition 2017)

by Lydia Edwards (Author)

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492334,198 (3.83)1
Member:JSBancroft
Title:How to Read a Dress: A Guide to Changing Fashion from the 16th to the 20th Century
Authors:Lydia Edwards (Author)
Info:Bloomsbury Academic (2017), 216 pages
Collections:Your library, Currently reading
Rating:***
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How to Read a Dress by Lydia Edwards

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Fashion's not my thing at all but I was intrigued by the premise of the book and had it come through my library holds just as I have recently finished watching the first season of Netflix's show, 'The Crown' and discovering a website dedicated to focusing on examining the jewelry used in period pieces. So it seemed like a compliment to what I was watching and reading!

The book is a straightforward text in the sense that once you get the layout, it's the same. Edwards divides these dresses into periods of time, examining their fabrics, designs, the purpose of some such color or what not, what might compliment the dress, what the dress was worn for (weddings, day wear, etc.) and more. At the beginning of each period is a short introduction talking about the societal, political, cultural context, etc.

It pretty much hit what I was expecting out of the book but it's not without problems. Like other critical reviews, I agree that having more views of each dress (front, back, etc.) would have been helpful. Sometimes the introductions are really tedious to read and feels more like an academic thesis in terms of tone. I also would have loved more dresses that reflected all classes, instead of mostly the rich. i'd also love to see a book that has dresses from non-North American/Western European countries.

But it was helpful. It made me think of the various period pieces I've watched and made me grateful that I don't have to wear some of these very cumbersome-looking dresses. It also made me glad that I didn't buy this as it's definitely more of a borrow for me.

But if you're someone who is interested in fashion, have an academic interest in the evolution of clothing, participate in cosplay, etc. this might be a handy book to have or at least access. It might be a good complimentary resource, though, and not something that can be used alone. ( )
  acciolibros | Mar 24, 2018 |
There is a great variety of garments in this book, including some gorgeous examples from early periods circa 1550-1700. It feels thoroughly researched (though I admit I would not recognize errors since I don’t have a background in fashion history, merely an interest). I really enjoyed the introductory sections before each chapter, which laid out some of the historical, social, and technological changes that drove fashion history. I loved the photos that were included.

My criticisms would be: the font size is really small and there are a lot of details that are hard to see. I would gladly have paid $15-20 more for a larger-format book with larger text and illustrations. The quality of the reproductions is very high, just small. The other thing I would like would be to see more frequent images of the rear view of the garments, as well as more examples of the underwear or foundation garments that would be worn with different styles (there are maybe 4-5 pictures of undergarments; the rest are just described). Finally there are a fair number of pretty glaring typos, suggesting that the budget mainly went to reproduction rights and color printing, not editing .

Despite these quibbles, I really enjoyed the book. I’m not a costumer, so I don’t have any practical reason to have this book and can’t speak to its usefulness, but I enjoyed looking through it and learned a lot. ( )
  sansmerci | Dec 28, 2017 |
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Book description
Fashion is ever-changing, and while some styles mark a dramatic departure from the past, many exhibit subtle differences from year to year that are not always easily identifiable. With overviews of each key period and detailed illustrations for each new style, How to Read a Dress is an authoritative visual guide to women's fashion across five centuries.

Each entry includes annotated color images of historical garments, outlining important features and highlighting how styles have developed over time, whether in shape, fabric choice, trimming, or undergarments. Readers will learn how garments were constructed and where their inspiration stemmed from at key points in history – as well as how dresses have varied in type, cut, detailing and popularity according to the occasion and the class, age and social status of the wearer.

This lavishly illustrated book is the ideal tool for anyone who has ever wanted to know their cartridge pleats from their Récamier ruffles. Equipping the reader with all the information they need to 'read' a dress, this is the ultimate guide for students, researchers, and anyone interested in historical fashion.   [retrieved 7/17/17 from Amazon.com]
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Fashion is ever-changing, and while some styles mark a dramatic departure from the past, many exhibit subtle differences from year to year that are not always easily identifiable. With overviews of each key period and detailed illustrations for each new style, How to Read a Dress is an authoritative visual guide to women's fashion across five centuries. Each entry includes annotated color images of historical garments, outlining important features and highlighting how styles have developed over time, whether in shape, fabric choice, trimming, or undergarments. Readers will learn how garments were constructed and where their inspiration stemmed from at key points in history - as well as how dresses have varied in type, cut, detailing and popularity according to the occasion and the class, age and social status of the wearer. This lavishly illustrated book is the ideal tool for anyone who has ever wanted to know their cartridge pleats from their Recamier ruffles. Equipping the reader with all the information they need to 'read' a dress, this is the ultimate guide for students, researchers, and anyone interested in historical fashion.… (more)

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