The dress of the people : everyday fashion in eighteenth-century England /
John Styles.
New Haven : Yale University Press, c2007.
xi, 432 p. : ill. (chiefly col.) ; 25 cm.
0300121199 (cl : alk. paper), 9780300121193 (cl : alk. paper)
More Details
New Haven : Yale University Press, c2007.
0300121199 (cl : alk. paper)
9780300121193 (cl : alk. paper)
contents note
Introduction: Consuming the eighteenth century -- Travellers' tales : nation and region -- What the people wore -- Clothing biographies -- Keeping up appearances -- Changing clothes -- Fashioning time : watches -- Fashion's favourite : cotton -- Clothing provincial England : fabrics -- Clothing provincial England : garments -- Clothing the metropolis -- The view from above -- The view from below -- Budgeting for clothes -- Clothes and the lifecycle -- Involuntary consumption : objects of charity -- Involuntary consumption : parish paupers -- Involuntary consumption : servants -- Popular fashion.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2009-01-01:
Britain's expanding empire in the long 18th century and the resulting growth of the nation's commercial prosperity led to significant increases in the array of material goods available to contemporary Britons. Styles (Univ. of Hertfordshire), former graduate studies director at the Victoria and Albert Museum, demonstrates that the greatest change in material possessions among ordinary consumers from 1660 to 1832 came about in the form of clothing. Styles makes excellent, insightful use of clothing descriptions from criminal trials, print illustrations, and artworks of the era to explore the range and implications of clothing among the masses. Most fascinating are the poignant snippets of fabric taken from baby clothes and kept for identification purposes in the files of the London Foundling Hospital, which was established in 1739. These small pieces of cloth prove to be a gold mine of information in Styles's examination of 18th-century textiles. New sorts of goods did not remain the purview of the moneyed classes: plebian Britons also enjoyed the wearing of calicos, shoe buckles, cotton stockings, and silk gloves, even if they frequently chose to make their own fashion statements instead of emulating the upper classes. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. E. J. Jenkins Arkansas Tech University
Appeared in Library Journal on 2008-03-01:
This scholarly work maps new territory in the understanding of 18th-century material culture; specifically, the clothing selected and worn by ordinary Englishmen and Englishwomen. Styles (history, Univ. of Hertfordshire; coeditor, Gender, Taste and Material Culture in Britain and North America, 1700-1830) draws on an evocative array of primary sources to argue his thesis that the working poor had more choice in dress and greater fashion awareness than was previously believed. His sources include both the textual (probate inventories and criminal-court records) and the visual (paintings, prints, and textiles). Fabric swatches from the admissions records at the London Foundling Hospital archives provide especially poignant illustrations. Eminently readable, this volume is most appropriate for academic collections, but its themes of economics, history, and popular material culture-together with its photographs of rare fabrics-make it a useful resource for costumers as well.-Nancy B. Turner, Syracuse Univ. Lib., NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
This item was reviewed in:
Library Journal, March 2008
Choice, January 2009
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Bowker Data Service Summary
Material things transformed the lives of ordinary English men and women between the restoration of Charles II in 1660 and the Great Reform Act of 1832. This title retrieves the unknown story of ordinary consumers in 18th century England and what they wore.
Main Description
The material lives of ordinary English men and women were transformed in the years following the restoration of Charles II in 1660. Tea and sugar, the fruits of British mercantile and colonial expansion, altered their diets. Pendulum clocks and Staffordshire pottery, the products of British manufacturing ingenuity, enriched their homes. But it was in their clothing that ordinary people enjoyed the greatest change in their material lives. This book retrieves the unknown story of ordinary consumers in eighteenth-century England and provides a wealth of information about what they wore. John Styles reveals that ownership of new fabrics and new fashions was not confined to the rich but extended far down the social scale to the small farmers, day laborers, and petty tradespeople who formed a majority of the population. The author focuses on the clothes ordinary people wore, the ways they acquired them, and the meanings they attached to them, shedding new light on all types of attire and the occasions on which they were worn.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Consuming the Eighteenth Centuryp. 1
Patterns of Clothing
Travellers' Tales: Nation and Regionp. 19
What the People Worep. 31
Clothing Biographiesp. 57
Keeping up Appearancesp. 71
Changing Clothesp. 85
Fashioning Time: Watchesp. 97
Fashion's Favourite? Cottonsp. 109
Getting and Spending
Clothing Provincial England: Fabricsp. 135
Clothing Provincial England: Garmentsp. 153
Clothing the Metropolisp. 167
Understanding Clothes
The View from Abovep. 181
The View from Belowp. 195
Budgeting for Clothesp. 213
People and their Clothes
Clothes and the Life-cyclep. 229
Involuntary Consumption? Prizes, Gifts and Charityp. 247
Involuntary Consumption? The Parish Poorp. 257
Involuntary Consumption? Servantsp. 277
Popular Fashionp. 303
Conclusionp. 321
Sourcesp. 327
Tablesp. 335
Notesp. 359
Select Bibliographyp. 403
Photograph Creditsp. 425
Indexp. 426
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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