Double Review // A Fashionable History of Dresses & Skirts, and Coats & Trousers

Dresses and Skirts1A Fashionable History of Dresses & Skirts
and
A Fashionable History of Coats & Trousers

By Helen Reynolds

Published by Raintree in 2003

Unlike many fashion history texts, these books resist chronology, instead breaking up Coats and Trousersits short chapters into details of line qualities.  From there each chapter illustrates how those line qualities appeared at different points in fashion history (like magic!). For example, in the “Wrapping” chapter (2 pages long) of Dresses & Skirts, we see images comparing the Ancient Greeks, Romans, an Indian woman in a Sari, and a photograph of a Madam Grès creation from the 1930’s. Targeted at young people, the language is not overly simplistic, but the book overall is very short, and it doesn’t have much depth. While this is not a text for learning about why fashions changed throughout history, I can imagine that it would be instructive to learning about line quality, and noting similarities during different time periods. Part of a 6-part series, both books also have a timeline, glossary, and index.

In Dresses & Skirts the topics are as follows:
From Skin to Spandex
Wrapping
The Tunic
The Tailored Dress
The Waist
The Working Wardrobe
Straight and Narrow
Popular Pleats
A Glimpse of Flesh
World Fashions
Children’s Dresses
Men in Skirts
Fashionable Technology

For Coats & Trousers:
From Capes to Combats
From Cloak to Cape
Doublets to Bomber Jackets
Breeches & Plus-Fours
Trousers
Baggy Trousers
Women in Trousers
Dress Coats
Overcoats & Anoraks
Jeans & Denim
Shorts
Fashionable Technology

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