cover image Why’d They Wear That? Fashion as the Mirror of History

Why’d They Wear That? Fashion as the Mirror of History

Sarah Albee. National Geographic, $19.99 (192p) ISBN 978-1-4263-1919-8

Full of period images that show off every bustle, frill, and rivet, this wide-ranging guide to clothing throughout time will fascinate history and fashion buffs alike. Albee gives overviews of Renaissance, Elizabethan, and Baroque fashions (among many others), while highlighting how economic and social changes were often directly reflected in clothing—during the Great Depression, for instance, costume jewelry replaced more expensive accessories. In the 1920s, flapper dresses represented women’s liberation, and the styles of the 1960s and 1970s were sometimes inspired by current events (following the moon landing, the “space age” look became the rage). Albee also highlights the extremes to which individuals will go to conform to fleeting ideals of physical beauty—such as the practice of binding feet in China or the wearing of whalebone corsages and crinolines. An insightful study of how clothing is shaped by—and sometimes helps shape—history. Ages 10–up. (Feb.)