Monday, September 07, 2015

History of Women's Fashion

History of Women's Fashion (Design Line). Natasha Slee. Illustrated by Sanna Mander. 2015. Candlewick. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Is it a book? Is it a chart? Readers can decide for themselves how they want to approach this newest book in Candlewick's Design Line. The subject of this illustrated nonfiction guide? Women's fashion from the past hundred and ten years--or so.

One side of the fold-out-spread (or chart) features the fashions themselves, briefly labeled. The other side features a silhouette of each fashion and a longer description. Each item was chosen because it was "iconic." (Readers can agree or disagree with the choices. Perhaps even have some suggestions on what should have been included instead.)

It covers hats, shoes, purses, dresses, bathing suits, shirts, skirts, pants, glasses, jewelry etc.

This is a fine example of one type of nonfiction reading. You don't have to read it cover to cover. You are invited to look, to examine, to study. There isn't a right or wrong way to read this one.

So what iconic pieces are included in this one:
  • The Gibson Girl (1906)
  • Silk Turban Hat (1912)
  • Flapper Dress (1926)
  • Chanel Costume Jewelry (1935)
  • Christian Dior Suit (1947)
  • Halter-Neck Sundress (1952)
  • Mondrian Dress (1965)
  • Mid-Calf Platform Boots (1972)
  • High-Waisted Jeans (1986)
  • Flannel Shirt and Ripped Jeans (1990s)
  • Gym Chic (2004)
There are over 100 pieces illustrated and discussed.
 Blue Utility Suit (1945)
War rationing meant the "utility look" dominated fashion. Skirts were shorter as more women rode bicycles, while narrow waists, peep-toe shoes, and the 1940s curl hairstyles ensured that the look remained feminine. Even brides wore the utility suit!
Land Girl Uniform (1939)
The British Government formed the Women's Land Army at the start of World War II to replace farm laborers who had gone to fight and to help the country grow more of its own food. Nicknamed the "Land Girls," 80,000 women volunteered. They wore a uniform of overalls, a shirt, and Wellington boots, with headscarves to hold back their hair.
Beaded Purse with Zipper (1924)
Frenetic Charleston dancers required secure bags small enough to grip in their hands. This elegantly beaded bag, in the "tango purse" style designed for dancing, features a small strap to wrap around the wrist and a zipper to keep possessions inside--zippers having only just begun to be used in fashion.
I really enjoyed the illustrations.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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