Sunday, June 26, 2011

Book Review: A History of Costume, by Rachel H. Kemper

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Alright, here goes the first book review!

 This week, I read A History of Costume by Rachel H. Kemper. Although it was a relatively old book, published in 1977, it was a very entertaining read and was filled with an abundance of historical fashion goodness. 

It was organized chronologically, starting with the classical world and ending with the fashion of the late 1970's.
There were plenty of full color, full page photos! This was perhaps my favorite thing; the variety of the type of pictures and the sheer quantity of them, sometimes so many as ten images spread out over two pages! The captions to all of the photos were very descriptive and intensive.
The language was understandable and kept me reading; I never fell into a literary-induced coma whilst reading this book. The author also included many accurate historical facts about the culture and goings-on of all of the time periods in order to better illustrate the background against which fashion changed, and I really liked that.
There was also a helpful glossary at the back of the book filled with different fashion terms, for example clavi, the vertical stripes of color used to decorate Etruscan tunics. Nice touch.
However, at the end of the book, the author filled about 30 pages with excerpts from novels, poems, and other great literary works that highlighted elements of fashion. I was rather confused, because none of the excerpts were organized in chronological order; or rather, they weren't in any order at all!! The excerpts went from being written in 1667 to c. 500 B.C. and then to 1532!    Even though it was nice to read the excerpts, the whole chapter felt really disjointed with the rest of the book.
All in all, it was a really pleasant, informative, and encompassing read. Great to pick up on your next trip to the library!

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