‘Sup. I got nothing witty today, people. I am miserable, and misery means the only reading I’m doing consists of an embarrassing amount of books whose covers feature naked male torsos. Maybe a bit of the neck, if you’re lucky. And frankly, even the glut of smut isn’t doing anything to cheer me up. I kind of hate everything.
Yeah, Tig. I feel you, bro.
Oh, and happy Robbie Burns day.
Review time, I guess. Today it’s the Dorling Kindersley publication of Smithsonian Fashion: The Definitive History of Costume and Style.
This is basically the most amazing books ever. Do you like history? Then you’ll like this book. Do you like clothes? Then you’ll like this book. Do you like history AND clothes? Then this book will BLOW. YOUR. MIND.
The book is a really brilliant visual odyssey through the major trends of fashion throughout history, beginning with the ancient world (prehistory to 600 CE) and ending with a chapter entitled “A New Generation, 2010 onward.” There are timelines, illustrations and photographs of garments, spreads profiling influential figures (such as Marie Antionette) or historical and cultural influences on fashion (like the discovery of King Tut’s tomb and the subsequent vogue for Egyptian motifs during the ’20s). There are a few two page spreads that examine a particular outfit in detail:
Most of the pages look like this:
The pictures are gorgeous, but there is a lot of information crammed into this book as well. The glossary is pretty damn amazing, too.
The only flaws are that female fashions are, unsurprisingly, featured more prominently than male fashions, and that there is a bias toward the fashions of the Western world, specifically European and later North American cultures.
Verdict: Perfect for the budding costume historian. If your idea of the perfect Friday night is learning about the evolution of the mantua from the Baroque through the Rococo periods, then this book is for you (and also we should probably be friends because that is actually what all of my Friday nights are like, if you add briefs spells of crying, dancing, and tea-drinking).
Best line(s): “Tailors became as creative with codpiece shapes as with other clothing details. The codpiece could hide a pocket or even be used as a pincushion.” (p. 89). HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Codpiece. Okay, now I am a little bit cheered up.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stuffed codpieces. Oh, come on. As if I could resist. I am only human.