How to Read a Dress
How to Read a Dress: A Guide to Changing Fashion from the 16th to the 20th Century by Lydia Edwards
HBL Note: I originally requested this book as a desk copy for my History of Fashion course at Indiana University. I thought this would be a great textbook to use in class. But when I began to follow the author on Instagram (@howtoreadabook) I thought it would be a great book to feature on my website. It is beautifully produced. I shared images of different pages and the little details that were included to give you an idea how gorgeous the book is. Alas, the pictures don't do it justice. Just take my word that it is a lovely book.
If you are studying fashion history, or just kind of interested in learning more about fashion history, pick up this book and flip through it. You don't have to read it cover to cover, in fact I think it would be a great book to carry with you while visiting art museums to learn more about the dress that is depicted in paintings you see.
I'll be interviewing Lydia, the author, tomorrow - so check back with us then! This is my first interview with a fellow fashion historian, which is exciting for me! I love having a platform to share the work of my colleagues (even those in foreign countries!) I also liked how nicely this book fit in with the other book I reviewed this week, Sargent's Women by Donna Lucey. You know how much I love the connection between art, fashion, and literature. We could learn a lot about Sargent's paintings by studying the dress of his subjects.
From the publisher:
Fashion is ever-changing, and while some styles mark a dramatic departure from the past, many exhibit subtle differences from year to year that are not always easily identifiable. With overviews of each key period and detailed illustrations for each new style, How to Read a Dress is an authoritative visual guide to women's fashion across five centuries.
Each entry includes annotated color images of historical garments, outlining important features and highlighting how styles have developed over time, whether in shape, fabric choice, trimming, or undergarments. Readers will learn how garments were constructed and where their inspiration stemmed from at key points in history – as well as how dresses have varied in type, cut, detailing and popularity according to the occasion and the class, age and social status of the wearer.
This lavishly illustrated book is the ideal tool for anyone who has ever wanted to know their cartridge pleats from their Récamier ruffles. Equipping the reader with all the information they need to 'read' a dress, this is the ultimate guide for students, researchers, and anyone interested in historical fashion.