When they call something Fashion: The Definitive History of Costume and Style, it is a lot of pressure for a book, even one of the coffee table or tome variety. What they really mean is Fashion: An Excellent But Necessarily Brutally Edited Historical Overview of European Slash Western Clothing with the proviso So Not Nearly Enough About Bustles. This time, I wasn’t just looking at fashion plates or a picture book. This time, I was reading a picture book about fashion with “circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was” and descriptive notations like “cane”, historically relevant details, and extant examples, comme ça:
In the name of science, I made myself wade through the things I am less interested in, such as the Medieval and the 1970s, to get to the good stuff which in this case means 1850 to Edwardian. I discovered that I have gotten to the point where I recognise certain dresses and say things like, “this one lives at The Met” to myself while I’m reading. Honestly, the whole thing just increases my pretensions without any commensurate gain in actual knowledge.
DK Publishing makes excellent reference books. I have kept and pored over my copy of their Encyclopedia of the Dog for years, in spite of the fact that I do not have, nor do I anticipate getting, a dog. I borrowed Fashion: The Definitive History of Costume and Style from my local library to see if I wanted to buy it as well. It was interesting, but I don’t think I do. It provided a good historical overview, but without enough detail about the topics I really want to learn about such as dressing from the skin out, or focusing on time periods I find loveliest because I am, apparently, all about The Underthings and The Pretty. I keep looking through books about historical costume and wishing I could attend some sort of course or seminar to give me true insight into very specific fashion elements and eras. Seriously, I should look into that.
While at the library, I took out a book on the history of underwear. That should be interesting. Maybe.