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Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans and Fashion, 1840-1900 Hardcover – January 1, 2005
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As a newcomer to the study of dress, I found her ability to recognize and explain subtle details of clothing nuances extraordinary. Many of these were, at first glance barely visible in an aging photograph, but upon her outlining them they became so readily apparent as to cause the reader to wonder why they hadn't seen it sooner! It is a lovely book, either for the professional costumer or historian, or the casual observer who might want a glimpse into the history of those who came before, and the role fashion played throughout the early history of America.
Anyone who enjoys browsing through very old photographs will be amazed at the quality of the Daguerrotypes, tintypes, ambrotypes and assorted other photographic techniques included in the pictorial sections. The text that accompanies each photograph includes whatever information was available on the subject. In a picture worth a thousand words, Ms. Sevra reads what the economic and cultural means of the people probably were by their manner of dress. In a few well-documented photographs, the photographer is even mentioned.
Probably the most interesting stills are those of African-Americans. African-Americans are portrayed as business-owners, college graduates, and servants. But, the fact that they are included at all is very special. It is unfortunate that fashion documentation of other people of color either wasn't as plentiful or available for inclusion.
Ms. Sevra has managed to portray America as it grew older as a country; the wealth and demeanor of her citizens through the way they were captured on film. It is a unique and quite appropriate historical perspective on the beginnings of a culture that has become the ideal of consumption. I can only hope that in another 100 years, someone else will be as thorough (and unbaised) with today's disposible camera society.
reviewed by Yvonne
A true gem sure to keep the reader entranced for hours at a time...
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I totally agree with all the wonderful things that have been said by others about this book. It is fantastic! Read morePublished 1 month ago by Bookworm
I purchased this as a resource to help me date historic images based on the clothing the people are wearing. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Julie
If you are looking for an in depth coverage of dating photos using known facts and visual cues you won't be disappointed in this book.Published 9 months ago by C. McGivney
This book is FANTASTIC! Joan Severa has such great detailed information to go with all of this great photography of everyday people that spans 60 years--I've given this book as a... Read morePublished 15 months ago by C. M.Zacek
The book has a wealth of textual information on fashions through the years. I only wish there were a lot more illustrations to help me date my old family photos.Published 17 months ago by Campin' Grandma
If you want help in identifying old photos by costume and hairstyle, this book is the best! Very detailed!Published 18 months ago by Mike Moody