Because it is difficult to judge a reference book's usefulness merely by its title and cover, we've added this page to Literary Liaisons. Every other month, we will feature one of the books listed in our "Researching the Romance" pages.
Below you will find a short description of the featured book, the table of contents, bibliographic information, and where possible, a scan of the cover. This page will also provide you with a direct link to Amazon.com so you may easily purchase this book on-line.
If any readers have a review, or have found this book to be particularly useful, I welcome comments, and will add them to the page. Simply e-mail us at LiteraryLiaisons@aol.com with your report.
Once a book has been featured, the title will remain as a link at the end of this page so you may reference it at a later date. So don't worry if you can't visit us that often. Also, the newsletter lists new featured books. To sign up for direct delivery of the newsletter, click on "Newsletter" below.
This month's feature:
"Victorian Fashion for Women and Children: Society's Impact on Dress"
(Check Amazon.com for pricing--discounts may vary.)
A Note on Women's and Children's Clothing Styles
PART I: General Topics
Chapter 1. Underclothes
Chapter 2. Leisure Wear
Chapter 3. Children's vs. Women's Clothing
PART II: Women's and Children's Street Apparel
Chapter 4. 1860-1864
Chapter 5. 1865-1868
Chapter 6. 1869-1875
Chapter 7. 1876-1878
Chapter 8. 1879-1882
Chapter 9. 1883-1888
Chapter 10. 1889-1892
Chapter 11. 1893-1896
Chapter 12. 1897-1900
PART III: Boy's Gallery
Chapter 13. Boy's Clothing
SYNOPSIS:I recently had the opportunity to review Victorian Costume for Ladies 1860-1900 by Linda Setnik, a fascinating look at fashion through photographs from the era. I am pleased to say that the author has followed up with another wonderful resource - Victorian Fashions for Women and Children: Society’s Impact on Dress. This new book covers the same years, 1860-1900, but looks more closely at children’s fashions, and how society influenced styles for both women and children.
What I found particularly interesting is the way fashion magazines criticized the contemporary woman of the day for sticking to impractical styles, yet continued to feature them in their pages. Saying we are slaves to fashion was never more prevalent than in the Victorian Era. Women wore layers and layers (sometimes as many as ten) no matter what the weather. Tight lacing and corsets forced organs into places they shouldn’t be. There are amazing examples of abnormally small waistlines in the photos accompanying the text.
Sadly, women not only followed these fashions, but inflicted the same upon their daughters at a young age. Children dressed like small adults except for shorter skirts and less ornamentation. I was surprised to learn that boys dressed identical to girls for longer than I thought. They normally wore dresses until the age of five or six, and sometimes even until their teenage years. Their hair, while usually short, was parted on the side, while girls parted their hair in the center, which is sometime the only distinguishable feature in a photo. The wealthier classes kept boys in dresses longer. There were no gender distinctions, as a result. All were simply children whose mothers didn’t want them to grow up.
In addition to fashion trends, Ms. Setnik covers leisure wear, which would hardly be considered ‘leisurely’ by our standards, since it allowed for little movement. Also covered are hairstyles and accessories like jewelry, stocking and sashes.
Each chapter covers several years, explaining the sometimes subtle changes from season to season. Waistlines dropped or rose, went from straight to pointed, hemlines of overskirts rose and fell, skirt and bustle sizes changed shape and size, sleeves puffed, and silhouettes slimmed. The photographs can be dated by identifying these changes.
Some additional features are an extensive bibliography to continue your research, and a price guide for valuing the clothing.
This book shows that Ms. Setnik thoroughly researched the topic, and is an expert in the field. I enjoyed seeing the photographs of contemporary women, rather than perfect models, and learned many new facts and details from this fascinating era.
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