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on November 21, 2010
I am a living historian doing a senior thesis on women's clothing of the 18th century. The good thing about this book is that it covers a lot of time periods and places, though it only gives the briefest descriptions. The photos are decent but the illustrations are not good. The text itself is far less than desirable; I have found multiple spelling and grammatical mistakes (page 307 says that the Directoire and Empire periods spanned the years from the French Revolution until around 1920, which I would like to assume is a typo) as well as some incorrect historical 'facts'. The writing style is misleading and vague at times. I will not use this book for research because I have developed a distrust for the information it presents as facts. I would not have bought this book for my own reading and research. If you are pursuing a career in history, fashion or historical fashion, do not rely on this book. If you're not, it might be a nice read.
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on February 19, 2010
Another class, another textbook. This book is a heavy, thick hardcover that is more of a chore to lug around than my laptop. Another book published by Fairchild Publications, the New York publishers who own WWD and W magazine. This is the text chosen by the current professor teaching History of Costume at my college. Background - this class is considered a "multi-cultural" course which is transferable for university credit. So it must cover social and historical aspects of the different epochs of Western Costume that are covered in this text. Having said that, there is a lot of social/political history between these covers, and surprisingly, not as many images as I'd hoped for in a book of this density.

I have a pretty extensive collection of books on clothing/costuming from different time periods, and this text pretty much skims the surface. The good is that they use artifacts from the different time periods, so you can see how people of that culture saw themselves in their clothing. The author has also included diagrams in some of the early sections, showing how different scholars have hypothesized how earlier cultures draped their garments around the human body. So that is also interesting. The bibliographies at the end of each chapter are pretty good, and I noticed some books referenced here that I already have in my collection. But really, for the amount of money charged for this oversized doorstop, I'm really disappointed in the number of images included.

Considering the constraints for the multicultural requirement, I suppose this book was created with that end purpose in mind. For instance I would have rather have seen some photographs of extant Georgean garments in good condition than contemporary engravings of what slaves wore in the period. Sorry. It's like People magazine - I want to see what Sandra Bullock wears to the Oscars - not what Jane Doe wears when she goes shopping at Wal-Mart. I also found it amusing that the authors deemed it necessary to create categories for "fashion tribes" when they reached the contemporary chapter. See if that inclusion doesn't date this book sooner than necessary.

As I said, I found this text to be a disappointment overall. Would I buy it if the professor didn't require it? Nope. There are much better history of fashion books out there (a lot of different Dover or Tacshen publications for example) that are better value and have more images for the serious student of fashion/costume design.
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on October 20, 2014
Teaching this book has been frustrating. Images chosen don't always illustrate the described clothing well, written descriptions are often confusing, poor line drawings (some completely undecipherable unless you already know what you should be seeing), multiple date typos, and in a 20-page chapter covering all of the Italian Renaissance (with photos and call-out boxes eating up space too), she devotes an entire paragraph to an utterly bogus story on what codpieces are based on a paper written by an anthropologist who admits to never having actually SEEN one???
I'm finding myself taking this book as an opportunity to discuss the importance of questioning tertiary sources and double checking a writer's sources.
Also a plenty of blurry tourist photos taken by the author's male relative.
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on March 10, 2010
This book isn't as cool as the cover makes it look. A lot fewer good pictures than I expected (I'm a very visual learner), but the content is good and covers a lot of material. I did learn some great stuff.
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on October 14, 2010
The textbook is beautiful, I'll give it that. That's most of what it has going for it.

The book is half pictures, which I expected from the subject, but the pictures don't provide as much information as I was hoping they would when I took the class. It's better if your teacher is kind enough to provide the accompanying PowerPoint files for you, but if not you're SOL.

In theory I support the editor's decision to devote almost half the text to providing historical context for the material. Costume is an expression of culture, and you need history to understand culture. Unfortunately, you need to take a few Western Civ classes before you read this text, because a lot of the information they provide is incomplete or outright wrong.

Finally, for all that one of the other reviewers complains that there's too much information on the clothing of peasants, the fact is this textbook barely touches that subject. Historians have a lot more information on what the lower classes were wearing than this textbook acknowledges - a number of their omissions are hand-waved away with erroneous claims of no data - and the near-universal use of hempcloth is omitted entirely. If it's true that the publishers of W are responsible for this, those omissions make a great deal more sense.

Don't buy this textbook if you don't absolutely have to.
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on March 23, 2016
Poorly written textbook on what should really be a picture book with minimal amount of text. This was the required text for my History of Fashion class in college and even the professor acknowledged that this is not a good book but it covers the time frame that is covered in class. It'll say things like the "sleeves were long or short, puffy or tight." Well, you might as well not say anything.
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on April 23, 2014
I am so glad that I bought this book and didn't rent it for my class. It is great! It goes through every time period up until today. The book itself is organizes amazingly! The whole book is in color which is great because you can finally see the costumes in color (the last edition was in black and white).
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on June 18, 2015
Bought it for a fashion class, and used it to study. The reason I purchased the book instead of renting it was because it's so beautiful and would make a great coffee table book. It would be a great housewarming gift for a fashionista.
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on February 1, 2010
I bought this book as a text book for a class, and I love it. It weighs a ton, but it is written well and is enjoyable to read
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on March 11, 2013
I purchased this book as a textbook for my History of Costume class, however I will be keeping it after the class ends because it is such a beautiful and informative book. I definitely want it for my own reference, it also makes a gorgeous coffee table book.
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