Fashion continues to change through the years. There are styles that distinctly signify a departure from the flair of the past. But many designs display just some subtle differences that aren’t easy to identify.
How to Read a Dress provides us with an overview of the critical periods in our history. It also presents illustrations to help us re-imagine what was and what became of the clothes women wore through time. Each entry in the book has an annotation of colored images of historical garments. It also has an outline of their important features and how these have developed over time.
As readers, we get to see the changes in fabric choice, silhouette, trimming, shape, and undergarments. We also get to learn how dressmakers then created the garments and the possible inspiration for such styles.
Lydia Edwards analyzed the transformation of dresses according to the most important points in history. She also took note of the differences in clothes between people of different status in society. In all, this picture book is an ideal tool for people interested in learning about the incredible transformation of fashion. It equips us with the information we need to be able to, as the title says, read a dress. That is a treat for anyone interested in fashion, society, and history.
Communicating with Clothes
More than just the changes, How to Read a Dress shows us how much we have relied on clothing to deliver a message to other people. It is about displaying our status or different stands in life.
From the different clothes with which people wore back then that society deemed as befitting their status in life to statements that show us how we deliver something that we believe in, the visual guide for dresses does more than just storytelling. The book dons us with clothes. The fabrics of which are so rich, not just in detail, but in history as well.
Clothing as Artifact
As mentioned earlier, the book presents us with a glossary of the dresses that evolved through time. While there are plenty other resources available for costume historians to peruse and learn from, especially when the reader’s perspective is of clothes as an artifact, Lydia Edwards’ book makes everything more enjoyable and easy to digest even for a novice.
The manner in which the book discusses clothing as artifacts is as delicate and precise as the way archaeologists unearth a treasure. The cherry on top for the piece though is, any reader who is new to garb history becomes almost like the archeologists running their hands over the fabric of every garment instead of being a mere observer.
Introduction of Various Eras
With almost five centuries of fashion to tackle, the book does a quick exploration and presentation of some of the most complex sartorial moments. For example, readers will get more than a glimpse of Western European styles of clothing, because while the travel is brief, the learnings we get from the style of that period is in-depth.
However, like everything else, there are points in Edwards’ book that require readers more research. She presents us with hints of changes, for example between the less restrictive dresses of the 1830s to the corsets of the 1840s. Edwards provides us with the right details to spark our curiosity and enough room to encourage our research.
Sometimes a guided tour is what we need to make us pay attention to the things that we sometimes do not give deeper meaning to, like our clothes. While most people are obsessed to look good all the time, not many of us can say we value the history and stories we don through our garments.
Lydia Edwards’ How to Read a Dress makes us realize that, clothing has become a close element of our lives. Very close, in fact, that our clothes seem almost like a living portion of ourselves. We live with dresses on, and the dresses live on with us.
Stephanie Wheatly is a designer who is passionate about her art. She also loves to create patterns out of words, and deliver those stories on different blog sites. Steph is also an advocate for self-expression, which she thinks should show in the way people dress and write. Now, she is slowly creating a name in the fashion industry as her works with local clients gain worldwide recognition. Despite becoming a little busier these days, she still finds some quiet time at home to pen her thoughts.