From Publishers Weekly
In the 1890s, mail-order "bust girdle" advertisements were discreetly hidden in the back pages of women's magazines; by 1918, bras were a major staple of the fashion industry, with 52 different brands prominently displayed in department stores. In this good-humored yet careful examination of mainstream print advertisements and bra-industry publications such as the Corset and Underwear Review, Farrell-Beck, a professor of textiles and clothing at Iowa State University's College of Family and Consumer Sciences, and Gau, president of a home-based textile-conservation business, illuminate women's experience of this most everyday, functional yet still titillating and even scandalous garment. Less a history of the bra than a study of its relationship to history, the book traces public perception of the bra's foremost function: originally conceived as a garment meant to promote women's health, it came to be seen as one meant to improve their appearance. Bra design, the authors demonstrate, shifted endlessly in response to such factors as wartime rationing, the increasing number of women in sports and, of course, the feminist movement of the 1960s and '70s. Many of Farrell-Beck and Gau's discoveries are surprising: Who knew that the U.S. government commissioned Maidenform to design a vest for carrier pigeons during WWII or that one enterprising manufacturer marketed a bra with a tiny, zippered pocket intended to hold money? The 51 b&w illustrations add to the entertainment value of this fun, punchy book. (Dec.)Forecast: Uplift will appeal primarily to women's studies and pop culture scholars, and readers interested in the history of fashion. A word to the wise: don't confuse this work with another recent one sporting a similar title, Uplift: Secrets from the Sisterhood of Breast Cancer Survivors.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
"Jane Farrell-Beck and Colleen Gau have collaborated to produce a minor miracle: an informal yet comprehensively researched work of history and sociology that isn't dull, isn't pretentious, isn't politically correct (or incorrect), and that's fun to read as well as being instructive."—Robert Gottlieb, New York Observer
"In this good-humored yet careful examination, Farrell-Beck and Gau illuminate women's experience of this most everyday garment. . . . A fun, punchy book."—Publishers Weekly
"Uplift is extremely well-researched, and is significantly better than previous histories of the brassiere."—Valerie Steele, Fashion Institute of Technology