This book addresses the evidence for the widespread belief that enjoyment of fashion is necessarily inconsistent with feminist values, from a feminist (as opposed to a post-feminist) point of view. It begins by establishing that many feminists in fact hold this belief and argues that disagreeing does not mean claiming that feminism was unnecessary or that it is now rendered redundant by changing social mores. The author describes the historical background as applied to both men's and women's clothing in various cultures, including close reading of the function of clothes in the novels of the Bronte sisters, Thackeray and Dickens, through to the use of fashion as a call to arms for the early feminists, as well as later theorists like Susan Sontag and Naomi Wolf. Issues of personal freedom and political correctness, the claims that fashion makes women sex objects for men, and the charge that the subject is too trivial to merit serious discussion, are all challenged. Allegations of links between fashion and pornography are explored, and the disagreements between feminists on this topic set out. Finally, the issue of dressing for special occasions and whether this practice has a place in the modern world is addressed with candour. Is Fashion a Woman's Right? re-establishes the relationship between fashion and feminist values.
"This new book on fashion and its hstory is brilliant and fascinating. It is a must read for all who are interested in style and clothes." --Roy Miles, author, Priceless: A Life in Art
"An impressive piece of research which Carolyn Beckingham has translated into a persuasive narrative. She marshals her material with skill and authority and presents her arguments in clear, well-written prose, avoiding academic jargon. The book will appeal not only to the specialist in this area of study but also to the general reader. Many will find added pleasure in returning to the classic literature from which she draws many of her examples." --Alan Beecham, writer and journalist
"The definitive overview of fashion. An impressive and witty chronological history of our way of adorning ourselves. A must to enjoy and to treasure." --Lucienne Phillips, fashion doyenne