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.
About the Author
Lydia Edwards is a Lecturer at Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia.
For a knowledgeable introduction that has plenty of eye candy alongside its scholarship, Lydia Edwards' How to Read a Dress hits the spot...The curated collection, featuring everything from funeral finery to department-store finds, offers [a...] fascinating fashion primer that invites you to make connections across centuries, to wonder about the ways huge social shifts are reflected in everyday life, and tips you off about the placement of shoulder seams. Whether you're a costume nerd or just casually curious, How to Read a Dress will give you some insights into the language of dress. * NPR *
The general principle of this book is excellent and provides a much-needed overview ... [It] is a perfect introduction to the world of dress history and provides a good stimulus for further study. For those with specialist knowledge of particular periods, it provides a quick and easily accessed reference for the main points of other periods. * The Journal of Dress History *
This original, accessible take on fashion history is packed with color images, and each example garment annotated with terminology, key elements of the shape and construction, and other details of note. -- C. E. Berg, Museum of History and Industry * CHOICE *
Those looking for a detailed, object centered and carefully researched study of historic dress will find a satisfying, richly illustrated guide for looking at clothes. * The Fashion Studies Journal *
Lydia Edwards's How to Read a Dress is a detailed, practical, and totally beautiful guide to the history of this particular form of clothing from the 16th to the 20th centuries. * Jezebel *
Ultimately, this is an excellent book for scholars of fashion history, costume designers and makers, and really anyone looking to improve their ability to determine the period of a given dress. * La Bricoleuse *
This is a beautiful, well-written book. The photos are a joy to study, and I finished it wishing it were twice as long. * The Vintage Traveler *
Sashays down the historical catwalk, examining women's costume from the 16th to the 20th century ... It is fascinating to rifle through this pictorial dress-up box and see styles come and go, and then imagine what you might like to wear. * The National Archives blog *
Using examples from lesser known international collections, this well-illustrated and informative book tracks the evolution of the dress through expert analysis and description. It will be an invaluable guide for anyone with an interest in dating and contextualizing the dress as a garment within the culture of fashion. -- Cally Blackman, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, UK
This appealing and accessible work offers a fresh perspective on fashion history from 1550 to 1970. Images of surviving garments from museums in Australia, Canada, Europe and the United States of America have been annotated to highlight and elucidate key fashionable details. This book would make an excellent companion to The Dress Detective. -- Ingrid Mida, Curator and Dress Historian, Ryerson School of Fashion, Toronto, Canada
This book explores the realities of what we can and cannot know about a garment, particularly in terms of the why and when of its creation. The author's concept of the fluidity of time is critical to our better understanding of how individuals approach dress. -- Jean Druesedow, Kent State University, USA