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The Art of Dress: Clothes and Society 1500-1914 Hardcover – September 1, 1996


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Hardcover, September 1, 1996
$59.98 $13.35

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (September 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810963175
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810963177
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 9.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,489,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

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

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 11 customer reviews
Ashelford's text is most insightful and fun to read.
Jennie Chancey
Dozens of color pictures and portraits for the historical information and close ups of details of costumes and accessories.
Bodicia
A MUST for all costume historians and fans of the art of antique costume.
Daniel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Rae Robison on January 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful book with and opportunity to see how the physical period clothes actually drape on a form. Close-ups on the weave and details of the garments are also informative. This is a great book for costume designers who are tired of guessing from paintings on the historical accuracy of how things fit. Made for the designer not the seamstress, I'm afraid.
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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Daniel on December 1, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful book! And I'm not saying that just because I'm English and I know intimately the Paulise de Bush collection (one of the collections featured in this book.). It deals specifically with the history of European costume (not American or ethnic costume - sorry, US of A'ians!) as reflected in the collections of English houses and collections in the National Trust, and has mouthwatering images. A MUST for all costume historians and fans of the art of antique costume. It is unfair to complain that this will not be of any help to the seamstress, because that was not its aim. It is intended to overview the changes in English fashion as reflected through the contents - paintings, engravings, drawings and actual textiles - of Stately Houses and holdings belonging to the National Trust. WONDERFUL book for the social historian of English fashion, and of interest to anyone who appreciates costume for its own sake.
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Jennie Chancey on October 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Ashelford's book is a must-have for the serious costume historian and for those who just enjoy looking at historical clothing. The photographs are beautifully executed so that the details of fabric, embellishment, color and form are easy to see and appreciate. The accompanying period portraits, fashion plates and illustrations are helpful for establishing time periods and decades of fashion styles. Ashelford's text is most insightful and fun to read. Clothes and culture go hand-in-hand, as Ashelford ably demonstrates. Don't miss adding this delightful volume to your personal library!
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 26, 1998
Format: Hardcover
My first encounter with this book was in giving myself a crash course in the dress of Amer. women of 1830-40 so I could sew for a Living History program. Basically, each image has a depth of information when you leave all other images aside. The book as a whole takes in a lot of different cultures across time, giving a breadth of exposure to the reader or historian. But if you come from a costuming background and want to know, for example, were waists high or dropped during the 1860's in the US, you do not have enough variety in the images of that period to answer the question. In addition, I felt the images were too small given their level of detail to make the book something you would sit down and browse through. A magnifier is helpful in this case, but not relaxing. It is a great coffee table book, but do not give this to anyone who sews, particularly period clothing, because their usual questions will go unanswered.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Kristin Brown on October 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I expected this book from its description to have far more photos of original garments; it's primarily illustrated with plates of paintings. This is understandable for the earlier period that the book covers, as very little clothing from that time still exists, but paintings and drawings seem to outnumber photos in the later periods as well.
As the first reviewer noted, I don't think this would be particularly useful to someone wanting specific details or photos as a sewing reference (that was my purpose in ordering it, and I am considering a return). It does, however, seem like a well-written overview of fashion history during this time.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 19, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is a beautiful book which provides an interesting view of clothing and society. The book is full of paintings, primary resources, and best of all, wonferful photographs.
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