From Library Journal
During the four centuries treated here, fashion was the province of rank and wealth; myriad conventions applied to all occasions and social strata. Historian Ashelford offers not only descriptions of garment details and of the manner of wearing in historical context but also excerpts from writtings by contemporaries. Her presentation is synchronized with over 260 paintings, drawings, and photographs?England's National Trust allowed remarkably well-preserved period garments to be taken out of storage and photographed for this sumptuous volume. Men's and women's attire are discussed in depth, and a chapter each is devoted to children's and servants' clothing. Costume historians and students should welcome this rich source of information?there is a lengthy section of notes?but general readers will enjoy this book as well. Highly recommended.?Therese Duzinkiewicz Baker, Western Kentucky Univ. Libs., Bowling Green
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
It is perhaps indicative of our uncertainty about and schizophrenic regard for fashion that we understand all too well photographer Cecil Beaton's annoyance at being labeled a "propagandist for frivolity." Drawing from three major costume collections owned by Britain's National Trust, as well as that country's vast scholarly resources, lecturer Ashelford, with the assistance of Andreas von Einsiedel's camera work, draws wondrous word pictures of four centuries of British clothing, mind-sets, and society. What emerges from the scrutiny of 400 years is the historical recognition that clothes no longer make the man; by 1914, master and servant, mistress and maid, could be mistaken by appearances alone. That progression is also documented by literary and artistic currents; analysis of Shakespearean dramas and Holbein portraits, for example, show in a glance various dressing rites and rituals. Fascinating facts will allure readers, as will the incredibly wide range of subjects--children's apparel, the retail trade, wigs, and servant dress, among others. Barbara Jacobs