Cover Image: Skirts


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Member Reviews

Coco Chanel was an actual Nazi. But it really felt like almost half of this book was a love letter to her and her influence on fashion. A NAZI. Are we suddenly okay with Nazis? Because, no. No no no.

There are parts of this book that were well-done. I loved the focus on Serena Williams and how she changed the face of tennis with her choices in game-day outfits. She's incredible and has changed the game in so many ways. In fact, I would have appreciated more focus on anyone besides thin white women though, as at many times throughout that's where the focus remained. There is mention of Laverne Cox which I also liked, as this inclusion was so important. Unfortunately, it was not enough.

Another issue with the book is that seemed to care more about telling the tory of the celebrity wearing the dress or skirt being discussed. Instead of focusing on what the dresses and skirts said about the time period in women's history, we get more info about the celeb themselves. Not exactly what I was reading the book for. There's not much in the way of feminist/feminine history, if that's what you're looking for.

And despite the title literally being Skirts, the book does not only focus on skirts, but dresses as well. Less than half the chapters were actually about skirts.

As I also metioned above, there was far too little information on any bodies except thin, white women.

It took everything I had to finish this book, which I actually did quite a while ago. It took even more effort to write up this very late review.

Ultimately, remember that Nazies are bad. Coco Chanel was bad. She should never be presented in any other way. And here, she was. Her Nazism was completely glazed over. Gross.

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Chrisman-Campbell's engaging prose, meticulous research, and deep understanding of fashion history make this book enjoyable reading for anyone interested in understanding the intersections of fashion, gender, and culture in the modern world.

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Thank you to St. Martin's Press and to NetGalley for an ARC of this book.

I really wasn't sure what to expect when I requested this book, but I found it really fascinating. It's exactly what it sounds like an history of skirts with some photos with examples of the skirts they are talking about sprinkled throughout the book.

I found this book pretty interesting..

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The history of women’s liberation in personal freedoms and fashions through the changes in the skirt style. I selected this book because the title reminded me of something my High School Economics teacher said, mind you I am now a 67 year old lady, the better the economy is the shorter the skirts go. What an interesting book.

Thank you #NetGalley, #StMartin’sPress, #KimberlyChrisman-Cambell and #Skirts for the ebook for my honest review.

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This book was really interesting. I enjoyed learning more about the history of skirts in recent history. It was cool to get more insight into the fashion of them.

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I loved this book! I learned so much about fashion history. The author did a fantastic job pulling the reader in and keeping them interested. The book was full of interesting facts and the perfect amount of humor and wit. I can't stop raving about this book. I have recommended it to all of the nonfiction/fashion lovers in my life and I'm pretty sure a few of them picked it up.

On tiktok as book_chick (Will add link later)

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This book drew me in more than I thought it would. The history of this piece of women's fashion and how it's so closely tied with different social and political history was fascinating. I really enjoyed the illustrations and the parallels to modern fashion. It's a great snapshot of something we don't often think of exploring.

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Skirts: Fashioning Modern Femininity in the Twentieth Century was interesting, and reading it with a second screen available for wild, mad googling at the same time became a favorite way to read this book. If your interests lean toward fashion, history of why we wear what we wear, and who are the players - this book will keep you engaged.

The focus is primarily the "skirt" and towards the end opines generally that the old kilt interest of men might just be where the skirt lasts longest. . .

I enjoyed the chapter-time layout, with full-info and research on these types of "skirts":

1. The Delphos
2. The Tennis Dress
3. The Little Black Dress
4. The Strapless Dress
5. The Bar Suit
6. The Naked Dress
8. The Miniskirt
9. The Midiskirt
10. The Bodycon Dress

A romp of a read, that drove me straight to my closet for a close review!

*A sincere thank you to Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell, St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for a free ARC to read and review.*

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From ancient Greeks and Romans to Lil Nas X Ms Campbell captures ALL the Skirts.

It’s interesting, you never really think about how political a clothing garment could be. You think it’s something I’m going to wear, it looks nice and off you go. Ms. Campbell does a great job of guiding us through the meaning and journey that skirts have gone through in history. She brings in different perspectives and does a great job in turning a work of history into a story.
I never thought I would sit through an entire book about skirts- but guess what?! This book made me do it. Couldn’t put it down- very interesting to read.

ARC received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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This book was comprehensive if a bit mixed up in the story telling. I did enjoy all that I learned and with my mother was still around. She would have loved it!!

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I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley.

This book is a very interesting and well-researched history of the fashion industry and how it affected women in the 20th Century. Dress codes and styles adapted to meet the changing roles of women in society, sports, and the workplace. Each chapter reviews the history and development of a particular style including wrap dresses, the little black dress, mini and midi skirts, etc.

My only negative comment is that the ARC did not contain any photographs. While I was able to search for images on my phone, it did not have the same impact as having the picture follow the author's setting and description of the clothing. I would have liked to see the author's choices of imagery for each style.

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The book skirts traces the shifting roles of women over the twentieth century through the era’s most iconic and influential dresses. It was a fascinating read and it was so interesting to see how things changed over the years. Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher for an ARC.

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"Skirts" is an interesting look at how fashion and clothing choices have influenced society and perceptions of women, femininity, and status, as well as how women and societal changes have influenced fashion. It was both interesting and amusing to read about why certain fashion trends (such as miniskirts, midi skirts, the “naked” dress) became popular or were unpopular, and the ways women protested against certain fashion trends or fashion restrictions.

In the final chapter, the author talks about the long history of men in certain cultures wearing skirts (kilts, djellaba, etc.), and the recent appearance of skirts and dresses in menswear collections, as well as the wearing of skirts or dresses by male celebrities. She wonders whether the future of the skirt will be male, while acknowledging that as long as the skirt is viewed as a “female” garment it will be controversial for men to wear, analogous to the earlier opposition to women wearing pants.

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Skirts is an interesting book but reads a little like a textbook. I enjoyed the information but it was a long read.

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This book was better than I anticipated. I loved learning about the history of womens clothing through the years. Such a niche book but something i really enjoyed!

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Written well but I didn't get into it. Realized I never got back to it and figured I should submit a review for what I read. Love the idea just not my cup of tea right now.

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“Skirts” is a book that does so much and so little at the same time. Tracking the history of the 20th century via dresses that played key parts in society and an ever-changing world,

I wanted to love this book. The initial concept fascinated me, but I should’ve know better than to judge a book by its cover. Using the lens of fashion to examine developments in women’s history over the course of 100 years sounds great, and is a tried and true method when covering a wide breadth of history in a few hundred pages.

This time, I feel like there was too much being discussed without enough sustenance to do more than just talk about the clothes themselves. I certainly learned a lot about gowns I’d only seen pictures of or heard about in passing, and that was it. There were only surface level acknowledgments of the immense upheaval and change at the core of the 20th century. Generalizations at best, focusing solely on western and European standards that were meant to speak for the world as a whole. “Modern Femininity” isn’t limited to any one race, culture, or body type, but I feel those points were lost along the way.

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Addressing Dresses

We are in an age of sexual confusion. It is a pleasant surprise to find a book devoted to celebrating a form of clothing that defines femininity. Moreover, a book that does so unabashedly and unapologetically.

“Skirts: Fashioning Modern Femininity in the Twentieth Century,” by Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell is a history and an appreciation of the dress, in all its forms.

Chrisman-Campbell opens the book by celebrating dresses and their role in enhancing femininity. She shows how dresses feed into women’s desire to express pride in being female, and help them express their sexuality. She discusses how dresses can be simultaneously demure and forward. She also examines their role in defining women in all of their modes, mother, temptress, and ingénue.

She follows this with a chapter on every major dress type of the twentieth century, defining the style and presenting the history and impact of the type. These include studies of the Delphos, the tennis dress, the little black dress, the wrap, the strapless dress, the bar suit, the naked dress, the miniskirt and the midi skirt, and the body-conscious dress.

In each chapter, she discusses the impact of each style, and explores what it said about the times in which it emerged. She introduces the women who pioneered each style. She also shows how it impressed or scandalized the society of its times. She also looks at the message and politics behind each style. Her explanation explores many levels.

She also examines the tension between dresses and pants, the conflict between the advocates of women’s pants outfits and those preferring dresses. She shows how the definition of feminism and femininity was defined by the choices women made in their clothing. This includes the roles women play in society.

Chrisman-Campbell is a woman of the left. She frequently uses figures such as Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama to underscore points about dresses, while depreciating or ignoring stylish women associated with the right such as Melania Trump. Do not avoid this book because of that. Chrisman-Campbell s’ story is fascinating and absorbing, full of valuable insights on women’s dress and women’s role in society through the ages.

Avoid the mistake of dismissing “Skirts” as a “chick book,” one only of interest to women. While covering a topic traditionally of interest to women, Chrisman-Campbell fits the history of the dress into a larger context, showing its role in history and today’s society.

“Skirts: Fashioning Modern Femininity in the Twentieth Century,” by Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell, St. Martin’s Press, 2022, 272 pages, $28.99 (Hardcover), $14.99 (E-book), $15.30 (audiobook)

This review was written by Mark Lardas, who writes at Ricochet as Seawriter. Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, historian, and model-maker, lives in League City, TX. His website is

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Chrisman-Campbell looks at the history of the skirt and the women that wore them.
I loved her descriptions and history lesson, but I wished there were pictures in the e-book version.

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Such a well written book. The author takes us through the years/centuries of skirt/dress wearing by women and men. She crafts the history in a wonderful style telling us about who wore what/when etc. it was especially interesting and fun for me to read about the designers whose names and clothing are familiar to me. And to read who wore them, the critics response to new looks as well as the public responses to new styles. All in all I found it to be worthwhile and a delightful, interesting book.

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