- Paperback: 112 pages
- Publisher: Fabric Fancies (January 1, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1887402152
- ISBN-13: 978-1887402156
- Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.4 x 0.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,751,038 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Victorian to Vamp: Women's Clothing 1900-1929 Paperback – January 1, 2000
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Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
...great reference...you're sure to find this book a fascinating read. -- Country Victorian, Sept. 2000
In a little over 100 pages, Paula Jean Darnell presents a lively account of a crucial period of fashion history. -- Victorian Decorating & Lifestyle Magazine, Sept. 2000
Step into another world as Victorian to Vamp shows you women's clothing at the turn of the last century. -- Butterick Home Catalog, Spring 2001
From the Publisher
As we enter the new century, it is intriguing to look back on American culture as it was a hundred years ago and compare it with our society today. Certainly one of the most striking changes is in the status of women, and one of the most outwardly noticeable differences is in women's attire. Victorian to Vamp: Women's Clothing 1900-1929 explores what women were wearing at the turn of the century and how their dress had changed radically by the end of the Roaring Twenties.
This book concentrates on fashionable styles during the first thirty years of the Twentieth Century. The author, Paula Jean Darnell, describes and identifies a distinctive ideal silhouette for each decade. Illustrations help the reader visualize how women's clothing and accessories looked during these three decades.
Victorian to Vamp is also the story of the evolution of women's clothing, as women themselves, tired of having restrictions placed on their lives and their dress, changed from prim Victorians to flamboyant flappers. We think women of the Twenty-First Century will enjoy this look backward into fashion history.
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Top Customer Reviews
On the plus side, while the author says nothing new, she does a good job of going over social and fashion trends of the time; I will give her credit for a decent job of writing and research.
But for me, as for other vintage fashion enthusiasts, any book on historical garments must include lots, and I mean lots, of great illustrations, whether photographs or reprints from contemporary periodicals and catalogs. This is where "Victorian to Vamp" falls disappointingly short.
The reprints are of indifferent quality, a couple of them quite crude (the author couldn't get her hands on a better picture of Amelia Jenks Bloomer? Come on!). And for a book of this type, why oh why couldn't the editors have sprung for a couple of prints in color?
If the author would care to reissue this with the help of a better photo/print researcher, I might be tempted to revise my opinion.
The illustrations are also scanty and often of poor quality; some look as though they were made by tracing the outline of another illustration. I could have forgiven the shortcomings of the text had this book provided lots of illustrations, which is the main reason I suspect many of us buy books on fashion history. This book has a great premise, but it is very unhelpful.
There are a number of flaws in this particular text, chief among them being the author's lack of focus. The book's target era is 1900-1929, but the author jumps far earlier than this a number of times. The dress reform movements of the 19th century are an important topic, but this survey is not the place to go into them, and adding illustrations of garments from 1850-1899 serves only to confuse the issue.
Furthermore, the author also does not maintain a clear timeline, even when she stays within her target era; the first illustration in the book is from 1897, the next is from 1920, the third from 1903, the fourth is from 1907, and the fifth is an undated illustration of shirtwaist blouses that can be identified as 1904-1905 based on the sleeves and hairstyles. This scattershot approach continues throughout the book.
The illustrations are also of uneven quality. The author uses several family photographs, which are quite useful for showing what average people actually wore from day-to-day. Also included are illustrations taken from prominent fashion magazines. A number of these illustrations, however, look as though they were reproduced from second- or third-generation xeroxes. Worse yet is the author's choice to use a couple of obviously hand-drawn illustrations that were copied from photographs and engravings, and are so poorly rendered that it's difficult to get a feel for what the person depicted is wearing. Copyright issues are a bear to nail down sometimes, but it is far better to take the effort to reproduce the original image than include a badly-drawn copy.
There is a certain sloppiness to the writing as well. She constantly refers to that stalwart of fashion magazines, _The Delineator_, simply as "Delineator". (The "The" is on the cover for a reason.) When discussing women's undergarments of the 1920s, she indicates on one page that women had eschewed the heavily boned stays of earlier decades for lighter foundations, and on another that the flat, boyish look of the period required significant corsetry for the average woman. (Note: I've seen a number of examples of corsets and girdles from the 1920s, and many of them are every bit as restrictive and heavy-boned as the most outrageous 1912 thigh-hobbling long-line.) She completely ignores reasons for changes in fashionable dress of the target years, in favor of illustrations of bathing and bicycling costumes from 1884 and 1894, respectively. Taken with her chaotic approach (see: timeline issues), it's nearly impossible for the reader to get any idea of how clothing styles developed.
It comes down to this: as an antique clothing enthusiast, I expect better treatment of the subject matter from someone who also claims to be passionate about the clothing of this era. On the other hand, this period is so poorly documented compared to some others (the Civil War and Bustle Eras, particularly), I hesitate to completely steer people away from the book. It has a two-page bibliography, but further research will be required to decide if the bibliography is of any use.