Men and Women: Dressing the Part

Claudia Brush Kidwell, Editor, Valerie Steele, Editor Smithsonian Books $29.95 (226p) ISBN 978-0-87474-559-7
Kidwell (coauthor of Suiting Everyone: The Democratization of Clothing in America ), costume curator at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, and Steele ( Paris Fashion: A Cultural History ) examine fashion in a cultural context, directing their attention to utilitarian clothes (such as the garments worn by football players, who ``laid aside their hats, and coats and vests'' to play unprotected when the game took hold in the 19th century) and to the androgynous, controversial apparel of avant-garde '60s designer Rudi Gernreich. Focusing on the interplay of gender and attire, the authors conclude that ``certain symbols resist change stubbornly,'' just as ideas of masculinity and femininity do, and offer multiple illuminating examples. Their comprehensive, succinct discussion of the many facets of dress and sexual roles treats the clothing of children, wardrobes worn on the job, fads and experiments (e.g., bloomers, a 19th century precursor of feminine trousers). Illustrated. (June)
Reviewed on: 02/27/1989
Release date: 03/01/1989
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