Books on the history of clothes
May 7, 2011 6:48 AM   Subscribe

Please recommend me a book on the history of clothing. I'm looking for more of a social history than I am something about changes in the clothes themselves, as I'm mostly interested in the relationship of clothing to society, class, etc., over time. Thanks.
posted by Richard Holden to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (11 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
I really enjoyed "What We Wore: An Offbeat Social History of Women's Clothing, 1950 to 1980." It is one of the few books I've kept that I read in college.
posted by katinka-katinka at 7:04 AM on May 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Adorned In Dreams: Fashion and Modernity. You might need to get this one from the library, since it's out of print. I got a copy on Ebay for not too much. It's hands-down my favorite social history of clothing, although some parts of it have been superseded.

Also Fashioning the Bourgeoisie and Slaves To Fashion: Black Dandyism and the Diasporic Identity.
posted by Frowner at 7:39 AM on May 7, 2011

The Dress of the People: Everyday Fashion in Eighteenth-Century England by John Styles is very good, and fits the description of the kind of book you're looking for.
posted by mattn at 7:46 AM on May 7, 2011

Best answer: Alison Lurie's "The Language of Clothes" may be exactly what you're looking for.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 8:01 AM on May 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

This article describes a museum exhibit and book about underwear.
posted by lakeroon at 8:33 AM on May 7, 2011

Seconding 'The Language of Clothes.' You might also like Paul Fussell's 'Uniforms: Why We Are What We Wear.'
posted by box at 9:06 AM on May 7, 2011

It may be to literature-focused for, but Renaissance Clothing and the Materials of Memory is fascinating.
posted by apricot at 3:27 PM on May 7, 2011

Francois Boucher's "20,000 Years of Fashion" (SBN 8109-0056-4) was published by Abrams in New York some time ago (exact date unknown), had over 400 pages including lovely color plates and covered costumes from prehistoric times to 1960.
posted by alonsoquijano at 9:48 PM on May 7, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks all! The Language of Clothes seems like the place to start, but all these recommendations look really good.
posted by Richard Holden at 7:15 AM on May 8, 2011

How far back do you want to go? A wonderful book is called Costume by Margot Lister. It has great illustrations, and good descriptions, of the changes in costume from ancient times to the mid 20th century.
posted by aryma at 6:38 PM on May 8, 2011

Thank you, katinka-katinka! I also read and loved it when I was in college, but it disappeared during one of my many moves and I was never able to remember the title.
posted by virago at 8:46 PM on May 8, 2011

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