Fashioning Modern Femininity in the Twentieth Century
by Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell
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Pub Date 06 Sep 2022 | Archive Date 20 Sep 2022
In a sparkling, beautifully illustrated social history, Skirts traces the shifting roles of women over the twentieth century through the era’s most iconic and influential dresses.
While the story of women’s liberation has often been framed by the growing acceptance of pants over the twentieth century, the most important and influential female fashions of the era featured skirts. Suffragists and soldiers marched in skirts; the heroines of the Civil Rights Movement took a stand in skirts. Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keeffe revolutionized modern art and Marie Curie won two Nobel Prizes in skirts. When NASA put a man on the moon, “the computer wore a skirt,” in the words of one of those computers, mathematician Katherine G. Johnson. As women made strides towards equality in the vote, the workforce, and the world at large, their wardrobes evolved with them. They did not need to "wear the pants" to be powerful or progressive; the dress itself became modern as designers like Mariano Fortuny, Coco Chanel, Jean Patou, and Diane von Furstenberg redefined femininity for a new era.
Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell's Skirts looks at the history of twentieth-century womenswear through the lens of game-changing styles like the little black dress and the Bar Suit, as well as more obscure innovations like the Taxi dress or the Pop-Over dress, which came with a matching potholder. These influential garments illuminate the times in which they were first worn—and the women who wore them—while continuing to shape contemporary fashion and even opening the door for a genderfluid future of skirts. At once an authoritative work of history and a delightfully entertaining romp through decades of fashion, Skirts charts the changing fortunes, freedoms, and aspirations of women themselves.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 145 members
Skirts: Fashioning Modern Femininity in the Twentieth Century by Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell is a great historical account of the presence, evolution, and inspirations of the skirt/dress mainly in the 20th century. Fascinating.
It was very enlightening and fascinating to read the different faces and changes associated with the dress/skirt concept in the modern history. It discusses the societal shifts associated that helped bring each of the alterations and also what happened secondary to said changes.
I enjoyed all of the different examples the author gave, and she clearly has an interest and passion in this subject. Well researched.
I would have liked visual aids for reference as well, though.
Thank you NG and St. Martin’s Press for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.
I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication on 9/6/22.
I really enjoyed this study of the changing styles for women.I completely related to the author I am a skirt wearer love the comfort the beauty of skirts I have very few pairs of pants but am constantly adding skirts to my collection.I had the Dvf wrap dress and other noted pieces,in feminine dress.An excellent look at womens fashion as it evolved as womens place in society grew.Will be recommending. #netgalley#st.martinsbooks
I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Thank you to Netgalley & St. Martin’s Press!
Skirts: Fashioning Modern Femininity in the Twentieth Century is a fascinating look at the history and politics behind fashion choices, particularly skirts and dresses. The author guides readers through the evolution of styles and notable designers that shaped the twentieth century. The book covers ten of the most popular and revolutionary looks. The author also discusses some of the politics behind skirt lengths and some of the more shocking concepts.
While this book is not comprehensive enough to include every style of the twentieth century it is a great reference for the most influential designs. It is well organized and informative. I do wish that the author had included more pictures or photographs for reference. If a reader is not already familiar with a particular style it may be difficult to discern from just the text.
I do think this book would be a helpful volume for someone studying fashion history or anyone with interest in fashion history.
This was a wonderful book, much more than I expected from such a narrow topic. This was a fun as well as an enilightening book to read.
This great book links popular culture and historical trends in a truly fascinating way. I was a bit leery looking at the Table of Contents, as it wasn't necessarily organized specifically along a chronology, but it worked well. Chrisman-Campbell takes fashion trends of their times and shows how they both influenced Americans and were influenced by Americans.
There aren't a whole lot of books like this, and that is unfortunate, because it manages to weave a tale about women's advocacy and activism, and showing how we can "zoom in" to see history on an individual level even through the clothing choices that people make. It also helps us understand our current times, in that our debates about acceptable fashion and "wearability" are all over our national discourse.
It also will appeal to the popular reader, someone who may be interested in historical changes, but don't feel like getting bogged down in an esoteric monograph.
I read this as an ARC from Netgalley.com.
Skirts: Fashioning Modern Femininity in the Twentieth Century by Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell was a joy to read. I just flew through reading it! The author clearly has a passion for fashion history, but she also covers the social and political climates that affects why and how people wear their clothes.
I had a blast looking up all the examples of different styles and specific dresses mentioned throughout the book. I'd highly recommend this to anyone interested in fashion, of any sort.
A fascinating look at the differences in fashion, while still holding firm to what has always been - dresses and skirts, and how they continued to evolve and change the face of women's fashion throughout the twentieth century.
This is engaging and thoughtfully organized and written. Skirts could be appreciated by anyone interested in fashion, history, or intriguing nonfiction.
eARC kindly provided by St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley. Opinions shared are my own.
What a fascinating book! Skirts traces the shifting roles of women over the twentieth century through the era’s most iconic and influential dresses, such as the Little Black Dress, Bar Suit, Taxi Dress and Popover Dress. The author ties women and their place in the world due to their skirt length - it is historical yet entertaining. As a Women's Studies major, I dove right in and it held my attention the entire time. The book is also not an overwhelming long book, but packs a lot of facts and stories into its pages. The author is clearly well-researched on the subject. I think some pictures or illustrations of the different dresses would be a great update to the book and help the reader get a better visual of the transformation of dresses and skirts over time.
This is a fascinating book of women’s fashions in the 1900s – like putting headphones on in a museum to listen to the description of the evolution of clothes without the visual images. As one who is “obsessed” with dresses, she examines the decline of skirts.
She presents the reader with ten categories. The Delphos have never gone out of style with its timeless beauty. The Tennis Dress has changed immensely since the 1884 Wimbledon Championships began. The Little Black Dress is loved. A report in Vogue said it perfectly: “a little bit of nothing, yet a masterpiece.” The Wrap Dress was commercially produced in 1933 by the Anglo-American designer Charles James. He said it’s “so easy to put on, you could do it in the back of a taxi.” The Strapless Dress is another name for halter tops in the 1920s. The Bar Suit was outfitted on Barbie dolls. The Naked Dress is skin tight. When Marilyn Monroe sang Happy Birthday to President Kennedy, she was only wearing what looked like rhinestones – 2500 of them. The Miniskirt, The Midi Skirt and The Bodycon Dress is what many of us remember. The book is packed with fashion tidbits. I had no idea that sleeveless dresses were banned from the House of Representatives floor until 2017. In her conclusion, she asked: “Are dresses doomed?”
It’s very well organized and researched, however, I wish some photos or illustrations were included. It was clear to me that the author was elated with all she had to say and could easily extend each section. There’s a great deal to learn from and it would be especially beneficial for those in the fashion industry. However, I wonder why there wasn’t a discussion about the current trend with holes in the jeans. Nevertheless, it’s one that would be fun for book clubs. She said, “Pants aren’t likely to go away, but they were never intended to replace skirts and I hope they never will.” It makes me want to go shopping.
My thanks to Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell, St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advanced copy of this book with an expected release date of September 6, 2022.
I received an ARC of Skirts: Fashioning Modern Femininity in the Twentieth Century by Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, and this is an interesting look at femininity through garment structure, specifically skirts and skirted garments which have been so rigidly gendered in Western fashion convention, dating back centuries.
The structure of this book is interesting and creative--after a brief introduction, she approaches the path of the evolution of both femininity and associated fashion by devoting a chapter to an iconic silhouette of each decade, roughly aligned with an iconic skirted garment or design associated with the decade in question, beginning with Fortuny's "Delphos" and progressing through the bodycon dresses of the end of the century.
And yet, within each chapter, she explodes the restrictive chronology by detailing how, in actually, the structural conventions and fit/form of whatever her focus is, are actually part of a timeless continuum, pointing out where else throughout history similar/influential fashions appeared.
This book is a really smart, contemporary, and subversively innovative look at a fascinating and timely topic. Highly recommended for anyone interested in deep dives into fashion, gender, and interrogative history.
This was a truly eye-opening book. As a history teacher, I was familiar with the basics, but found that I was not aware of how recently women were still mandated or encouraged to wear skirts. As a lover of skirts, this text gave me an appreciation for pants and the women who came before me.
I would absolutely recommend this to students interested in fashion history and feminism.
Disclamer: I received a free digital copy from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
I really enjoyed the book. It was readable, with a well informed author and interesting subject matter and presentation.
The reasons it's not a five star rating is that there were no pictures, no thumbnails of the dresses and skirts described. It was a major oversight, particularly given the subject.
Skirts was a fascinating and well researched enterprise documenting the history of women’s fashion. The author is well versed in so many trends throughout history, I was personally interested in Claire McCardall. She was the designer of the “pop-over” dress in 1942, “which could go from cleaning to cocktails.” She was a designer, at one point, in my husband’s family’s atelier in Manhattan. Many reviews I have read, mentioned it would have been lovely to actually see photos, of some of the designs described in the book. I took the time to goggle them…..which added to my enjoyment of the read. Anyone interested in women’s fashion can use this book as a hand book, as well as an educational tool, Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for this ARC.
An interesting look at a topic that, like all things sartorial, is often not taken as seriously as it might be. What we wear has a significant effect on how we think about ourselves and whom we consider ourselves to be.
This was a very interesting and fascinating read.
I'll be the first to admit I'm not a big fan of non-fiction but Kimberly blew me away with Skirts.
I enjoyed the history and explanations of how fashion changed so much for women and how it inspired so many ladies.
I loved getting to know more about how redefined femininity for a new era came to be in the 1900s.
And what struck me the most was the freedom it gave us! I never really knew how it became and this story opened my eyes to alot!
I leaned so much about the history of twentieth-century womenswear it was truly enjoyable.
Very informative and I truly appreciate the opportunity to read Skirts written by Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell
“I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.”
St. Martin's Press,
Thank You for your generosity and gifting me a copy of this amazing eARC!
Please note that this review is for an advance reading copy that does not include photos, something I consider to be highly important in regards to the content of the book. Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell covers the history of skirts (or possibly more accurately outfits that do not enclose the legs individually) over primarily the past 150 years or so. While she does briefly address ancient dress, and styles prior to this period, the emphasis is definitely on the past century or so, and how contemporary events, designers, fashion magazines, the media and celebrities impacted the popularity of different styles. Since many of the styles are also dresses the title is not all encompassing, but the look at changes over the time period is. It is definitely fascinating to see how things like comfort, scarcity during the World Wars, a return to maximizing after World War II is over, and celebrity impacted whole periods of time. Chrisman-Campbell points out dresses driven by designers, like Chanel’s little black dress, and Dior’s post-war dresses. She also focuses on trends driven by celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor and the strapless dress and various forms of the naked dress driven by Marilyn Monroe and Jennifer Lopez. She shifts focus towards the end of the book to focus on how men are increasingly wearing clothing defined as dresses or skirts and how society should be cognizant of this (glass stairs and camera phones anyone?) The book does tend towards technical details when describing make, design and cut of different styles; this is where pictures can be worth a thousand words. I come from multiple generations of women who sew, but as someone who doesn’t personally, some of the descriptions are too technical for me. The author also opens the book with a disclosure that she prefers skirts, and there are moments where this feels like it comes through in moments in the book. I’m personally not a big fan of dresses or skirts and I had moments where I almost felt like I was being subtly disparaged for preferring pants or shorts. Readers may not always be able to fully understand the design aspect of the book but just about everyone will be able to appreciate the evolution of the styles themselves. A complimentary copy of this book was provided by the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
This book did something I didn't think it could do. It captured my interest and kept me thoroughly entertained by a subject that, quite frankly, I had very little interest in, fashion. Those who know me as a teen know how I couldn't wait to get home and out of my "skirt" and into jeans to go horseback riding or any of the myriad of chores connected to being a horse-crazy girl. Let's face it, skirts don't lend themselves to mucking stalls, tending to fences, or even grooming beyond a tentative pat or two. I'm also the female adult who upon hearing of some hoopla over Kim Kardashian wearing an iconic Marilyn Monroe gown at a gala was bemused. Honestly? My reactions was, well, who cares?
I do love history, however, and this book delivers ample name dropping from the times of ancient Greeks until the uproar over Michelle Obama's bare arms. Did you know sleeveless dresses were still banned in the House of Representatives well into President Obama's term? I think I did hear that but somehow it never clicked. So, fashion and politics do collide, an idea that this book presents in an interesting way. I mean, come on. As late as 2022, the current year, we've heard outrage over the dress of not just Minnie Mouse but a certain colored M&M, so style choices haven't quite become passe.
The book presents its material in an orderly, interesting way. Beginning with the Delphos styling, which harked back to ancient Greece for inspiration, as the 20th century began, it takes us through the many styles, many borrowing or developing in direct conflict to the current style, until the early 21 century. It was great fun to hear historical names such as Josephine Bonaparte and Marie-Antoinette pop up, either from adopting or promoting design by usage. For instance, Isadora Duncan, famed dancer, performed in a Delphos gown and that Susan Sontag was actually buried wearing one.
I won't detail all the sections but they are titled the Delphos, Tennis Dress, Little Black Dress (don't we all own one of those?), Wrap Dress, Strapless Dress, Bar Suit (had no clue what that was until I read this), Naked Dress, Miniskirt, Midi Skirt, and the Bodycon Dress. Each style is described, including variations on it, and you'll probably realize that you have seen each at some point, even if, like me, you had no clue what they were called. Personalities of each time frame, including modern ones influenced by it's styles, are included. I might also note that men in skirts are included in the mix. I guess I was never enough of a Nirvana fan to see the photos of the late Kurt Cobain in skirts, such as on the cover of "The Face". Somehow, I never pictured him in anything but grunge but that is a whole other story.
Bottom line, against all expectations, I found this an intriguing, interesting read. Fashion has both shaped and been shaped by the times, times it has also had an impact on. Kudos to author Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell for doing such an excellent job making this until now uninteresting to me subject quite fascinating. She's even included a long bibliography and notes at the end.
Thanks #NetGalley and #StMartinsPress for opening my eyes to a part of history and my world that I've largely ignored.
When I was a girl I loved my Barbie dolls. I should clarify, I loved my Barbie doll clothes. I loved those New Look inspired fashions with their bouffant skirts. I thought I would grow up and wear clothes like these.
As a girl, I wore dresses with crinolines and white gloves and a hat.
By the time I was entering my teen years, the Mod look and mini skirts were in. Mom bought me Go Go boots. I hated those white boots. I spent my teenage years in shifts and a-line dresses and pleated skirts with blouses, sweaters, and knit tops. The skirts kept getting shorter and I had to keep shortening my skirts. Mom gave me a girdle and garters and stockings when I started seventh grade. I was thrilled when Mom brought home pantyhose and tights to replace them!
As a young adult, I had maxi skirts and midi skirts and sun dresses and business suits with oxford cloth shirts. I don’t remember when I last wore a skirt. I think it was ten years ago at my father-in-law’s funeral.
My step-grandfather told me that when he was a boy, he would hang around at the trolley stop to watch the ladies board. Their hobble skirt showed their ankles, and they had to lift the skirt to go up the steps. I may have not loved mini skirts, but I sure am glad I didn’t have to wear a hobble skirt!
Skirts weaves a history of the Twentieth century’s changing dress styles with the rise of feminism and freeing women from constraints. Shorter skirts, from tennis champ’s Lenglen’s scandalous calf-length tennis skirt to the Mini skirt, allowed women to walk and run uninhibited. Short skirts required panty hose and tights, not girdles and garter belts. Dresses that skimmed the body didn’t need corsets.
Coco Chanel’s famous “little black dress’ was ground breaking not just because it exposed the legs and skimmed the body, but for returning black back to elegance, and by making fashion affordable through the use of less expense, commonly found fabrics. The ‘Taxi’ dress was so easy to put on, you could change in a taxi. The dress wrapped around the body, a precursor to Diane von Furstenberg’s 1970’s wrap dress. The ‘popover dress’ was made in studier fabrics and was inexpensive, at first worn to protect one’s clothing, then as an easy wear dress.
Fashion also responded to world events. WWII rationing resulted in shorter skirts using less fabric and masculine styles, and after the war was over, the New Look incorporated yards of fabric in full skirts, with tighter bodices hugging the waist, a return to femininity. The ‘Bar Suit’ was “designed for drinking cocktails,” its “inner construction that made the Dior shape prevail whatever the shape of the woman.”
Designers forged amazing manipulations of fabrics to create iconic styles. Fortuny’s pleated dresses, a mere tube of several pieces of silk fabric, was inspired by the ancient Greeks. The strapless dress, of which Barbie had many styles, was a ‘marvel of engineering,’ and became an eveningwear staple and deb favorite. Hollywood film stars wore many iconic strapless dresses on film.
Most of these fashions were copied and worn by ordinary woman. But not the ‘Naked Dress’ with “illusion” of nudity. They are more costumes than fashion, worn in the movies and to galas by movie and recording artists looking for publicity; these scandalous dresses garnered notice. They were made possible by the development of synthetic fabrics.
Mini skirts and midi skirts have their chapters, too.
And last, the author addresses the ‘Bodycon Dress,’ apparel that shows off the body, made of skintight, stretchy fabric. I see these dresses on the local news weather girl, but the idea goes back a long way. The ‘Sweater Girl’ of the 40s and 50s showed off her curves while covered up. Sheath dresses and straight skirts fall into this category, too. And, even the designer jeans of the 80s, and the tight fitness clothes that are still hip today. Every superhero has a body suit that shows off their figure.
Since few of us have perfect, prepubescent, or toned bodies, undergarment shapers have returned. But also, there is a push back for body acceptance.
Pantsuits and jeans and jeggings are common daily wear for most women. But now men have embraced the wearing of skirts. “The future of skirts?” the author asks, “It might just be male.”
Skirts is a fascinating, fun read.
I received a free egalley from the publisher through NetGalley. My review is fair and unbiased.
This was an interesting book. The research involved clearly was extensive. In many ways this book surprised me by the scope of subjects it covered. Some chapters were very nostalgic for me, a few chapters left me cold. But most of the topics included I found worth reading. It covered much of the history of dresses and skirts. It included such things as WW2, the effect the economy had on fashion, Rosie the Riveter’s mannish influence, Walt Disney’s movie Cinderella and other movies that influenced style.
I enjoyed a glimpse into the world of the designer Dior and how fashion models were called mannequins. Memories flooded my thoughts as I read about the beginning of the poodle skirt, they also called them pinwheels skirts. I was surprised that in 1960 a poodle dog was the number one breed. I can remember wanting a felt circle skirt with a jeweled poodle embroidered on it in the 60’s. I did not get that poodle skirt, but in 1964 I settled for being a Barry Goldwater Girl and wearing a uniform that had a bright gold felt pinwheel style skirt.
Moon boots and mini skirts were influenced by the space age, and star trek played a part in changing fashions. Minis to Maxi dresses were influenced by TV programs.
It even delved into politics researching about candidates that became known for wearing pantsuits instead of dresses. Thanks to Net galley and Saint Martin's press for an advance copy.
# Skirts #SaintMartin'sPress #Net Galley
Skirts: Fashioning Modern Femininity in the Twentieth Century by Kimberly Chrisman-Camo is a refreshing and interesting examination of skirts, the people that wear them, and how they’ve changed through the decades to reflect society.
I loved learning about fashion in tennis. I hadn’t realized that the two were so closely linked and it was fascinating to discover. I deeply appreciated the inclusion of the Williams sisters and their fashion choices in tennis. Especially the highly controversial catsuit from 2018, even though I felt that garment refuted the author’s position that skirts > pants. While I understand the author’s position that skirts allow for more movement in sports, I must disagree that they’re suitable for all sports. I played softball for fifteen years and there is no way I could have played in a skirt. Squatting behind the plate as a catcher in a skirt would have been obscene; sliding into a base in a skirt would have been horribly painful.
However, I appreciate the argument for skirts! It’s a well-done book when I’m thinking about it for days after, analyzing both sides of the argument. Even though I came to a different conclusion than the author, Skirts was a well-researched and written book.
I also enjoyed the well-roundedness of Skirts. It would have been easy for the author to just focus on skirt-wearing women for this book; however, she included important details about women in pants, men in kilts, dresses, and skirts, and a good segment about the transgender community.
Thank you to NetGalley, St Martin’s Press, and the author, Kimberly Chrisman-Camp for the opportunity to read and review Skirts: Fashioning Modern Femininity in the Twentieth Century. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Skirts gets a 4/5 for me for being an engaging and well-rounded argument.
ARC Kindle Copy from Review from Net Galley and St. Martin's Press.
I received a free, advance copy of this book and this is my unbiased and voluntary review.
Its all about the skirts and the history of them. It will take you on a journey into the hidden world of them and how they became a part of society.
Fans of them will enjoy looking back at time.
This was a well written book about a subject that I ordinarily probably wouldn't have read, but I really enjoyed it. The history of skirts was fascinating and I learned quite a bit and found it fascinating. I recommend this to anyone interested in fashion or for everyone that is just looking for a great summary of this subject.
This book was more interesting than I expected it to be. My only minor complaint is there were no pictures of the fashions - so I was constantly searching the internet for pictures. Great book if you are at all interested in fashion/fashion history with some feminism added.
This is a fascinating historical account of not only the development of skirts/dresses caused by various societal shifts and changing politics but also how that development mirrored the changing roles of women, particularly in the 20th century. It is very well researched and exquisitely written so as to engage the reader completely. I read few non-fiction books, but I am glad that I read this one! I found it immensely interesting and definitely enjoyed it.
Suffragists wore white; female members of Congress wear white when demonstrating solidarity. Throughout the twentieth century women’s clothing has indicated various attitudes. The tennis dress worn by Suzanne Lenglen has evolved into Serena Williams’ boundary-pushing outfits. Certain styles have demonstrated longevity; Grecian Delphos gowns, Chanel little black dresses, Diane Von Furstenberg’s wrap dress and the strapless gown are examples. After World War II fashion looked to Dior for the New Look. Strapless led to the “naked” dress for celebratory occasions. The Mini appeared as a symbol of liberation; the Midi replaced it. The most recent addition, the Bodycon, has been enabled through physical fitness, Spanx and the argument against body-shaming. Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell provides the reader with many facts and theories about women’s twentieth century clothing. There is so much to learn. One might wonder what the next decades hold for both women and men.
Absolutely fascinating history of fashion -
From the evolution of tennis skirts to Chanel’s LBD
- loved this one -
Loved the history
The evolution of the skirt over pants took quite a bit longer than it should have in my opinion. Practicality should be first and foremost I think. And a lot of other women thought so too. And so we have the evolution of the skirt. Soldiers marched in skirts as did the suffragists and the civil rights marchers. Famous women all over the world made their stands in skirts.
The author takes us along to the twentieth century where things begin to change. And what a good look it was. From the LBD to the Bar Suit, the Taxi dress, and the Pop-Over, which I loved because it said it came with a potholder! Can you imagine?
My own mother never wore a skirt. Ever. Lots of dresses and later pants, but I never saw her wear a skirt. I, on the other hand, own tons of them and love them. This book was fashion fun. I loved every minute of it.
NetGalley/September 6, 2022, St. Martin’s Press
I read an electronic ARC of this book; therefore, I did not have access to illustrations and photos that may be included in the final version. I rated the book 4.5 stars for this reason and rounded down.
As a university student, I took a couple of historic costume classes. Many of the key fashion designers and figures of the early to mid 20th century were discussed. I enjoyed learning about other fashion pioneers about whom I had no prior knowledge such as 1920s tennis star, Suzanne Lenglen. Well-written nonfiction stimulates the reader to learn more about the topic. I looked up further information about Lenglen.
As I studied fashion in the 1980s, much of the content of this book is new to me as the 80s have since become history. I enjoyed reading about more modern fashion trends and personalities.
This is a great book for people studying fashion, women's history, sociology and history in general. It is not necessary to be a student of fashion to enjoy and appreciate this book.
It includes an extensive bibliography.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of this book.
An interesting social and fashion history, "Skirts" follows the history of ten skirts or dresses across the twentieth century. From the Tennis Dress to the Strapless Dress, the miniskirt to the Little Black Dress, the Wrap Dress to the Naked Dress: which design icons created the most iconic versions and why? What were they imagining the dress/skirt said about women and did women always agree with them? Some fashions, like the Delphos and similar dresses inspired by ancient Greek designs might stay largely in the realm of haute couture, but other skirts or the little black dress went from fashionable evening wear to everyday with ease. Author Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell includes interesting historical tidbits behind the fashions and her easy, relaxed writing style keeps the reader engaged throughout the book.
Discover the true origins of the poodle skirt, what the phrase "loose women" historically refers to, and more, from war time rations to post war reactions to modern day red carpet interpretations of dresses that have been morphing in and out of fashion for more than a century-and why- in this readable and interesting social history told through fashion's eyes.
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
From ancient Greece through today's genderfluid fashion, Skirts takes through the history of the skirt, and by extension, how women were treated throughout history. Fashion was dictated by fabric availability and blends, by utilitarianism, and by social mores.
Easy to read non-fiction
I can't wait to get my hands on a finished copy to see pictures
This was very well researched and interesting. I only wish it had illustrations. I stopped every few pages (sometimes even paragraphs) to Google the outfit being described.
Skirts by Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell is a great non-fiction. The history was fascinating and super interesting from beginning to end.
From wrap dresses to strapless dresses to miniskirts, Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell's SKIRTS is a thoroughly researched look at women's wear. She challenges the notion that wearing pants was the liberating fashion choice people may think, and instead shows us that skirted outfits really define femininity in all eras. After all, it's not pants that changed the nation like the miniskirt or went down in history like Marilyn Monroe's "naked dress" as she sang "Happy Birthday Mr. President."
Anyone interested in the history of women's fashion will find this book delightful. It's a quick read and has plenty of bibliographic information to further reference. The only thing I felt was missing were illustrations--the book had none. And yet, there is plenty of photographic evidence to take this up a notch.
Thanks so much to St. Martin's Press for inviting me to read a copy of this ARC in exchange for a review on NetGalley.
A fascinating book on women's fashion and the life of the skirt. We see the evolution of womenswear and the history that goes along with it. I really enjoyed the knowledge of the author,
Thank you NetGalley for the ARC.
A delightful read, crammed with marvelous tidbits about fashion, history, feminism. Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and to Netgalley for the pleasure of the read.
This book by a fashion historian Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell is at once entertaining and educational. It reveals many interesting facts of how what we wear, what we are told to wear or not reflects our place in society and draws a portrait of our world.. Some of the facts are shocking, some are amusing, many are quite unexpected.. You will learn for example that well into the 1980s Frick Museum in New York kept a wrap skirt to lend to those female researchers who came in wearing pants. The author explains, these things she is telling us "aren’t just quaint history lessons; legal disputes over appropriately gendered attire are more timely than ever." The book is an equally great read for serious history students and fashion aficionados in addition to the people interested in the subject of feminism.
This book was mostly about one’s emotions, passions and ways to keep them inside or... not being able to do so. Because of that, you could quickly find yourself reading on. When you read about an emotion for 100 pages or so, you’re bound to do just that, but trust me when I say - stick around for the ending. It was perfect..
Skirts (and by extension, dresses) have a long history, but I didn't realize quite how long until I read this book. From the scandalous world of women's sportswear to some of the most iconic gowns worn by women of state and all the way to casual skirts for everyday use, this book opens up a world of details about the opinions of men and women as fashions change but the basic concept of skirts stays the same.
Overall, I was expecting a bit more opinion and less dry fact, but this book is an excellent reference piece if that's what you're looking for. I'm told it's beautifully illustrated; the advanced reader's copy I received had no illustrations. My experience would have been significantly augmented if I hadn't found myself needing to pause to look up various designers and dresses along the way. The descriptions in the narration are merely adequate. That aside, I was quite fascinated to consider how the clothes I wear now were inevitably influenced by a history I had heretofore never considered. I have more confidence in my dress-selecting abilities after reading this book and a new appreciation for the trend-setting garments and inevitable copies that I see all around me.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC. All opinions are my own.
I have to admit--I love my dresses. I wear dresses everyday and each one has a skirt attached to the bodice. According to the author Chrisman-Campbell, since all dresses have a skirt component they count in the pantheon of "skirts." Even Reese Witherspoon chimed in with her whimsical love of dresses and skirts in the intro, citing how for short women, pants just don't work. Dresses/skirts provide women with a way to express their personal style, sexuality, and feminity in a very visual style. This new work, Skirts, tracks the evolution of women's fashion in the last 100 years as a means of gauging the power of the "New Woman" in western society. This work by Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell carries a much more important message--the role of feminine dressing and its ability to self empower women through the 20th century.
Throughout history, the skirt has been the mainstay of dressing for women. As women moved into the modern era, centuries of traditional dressing disappeared as designers created new feminine silhouettes to match the rapidly changing status of women. The author begins with the abandonement of corsets and crinolines and acres of fabric that "artificially cinched and shaped" and the introduction of the sleek female visage of the 1910s-1930s. Who knew one could chart such a wide swarth of the skirt/dress and its role in fashion, art and history? Starting with such fashion trail blazers as Fortuny and Vionnet, Chrismann-Campbell marches us through the introduction of corsetless dressing, the bias cut which hugged the female form, and the reveal of the sensual ankle. These new styles laid the foundation of feminine fashion for the rest of the century.
As I read the tales of the various artisans who created some of the most beautiful fashions in dresses and skirts, I couldn't help but think of Stanley Tucci's reprimand to Anne Hathaway in "A Devil Wears Prada" that haute couture fashion creates some of the most beautiful art of the century. The attention designers dedicated to detail and craftsmanship that Chrisman=Campbell charts in her work, shows the intricacy of the art of a beautiful fabric and a stunning silhouette. She links the power of beautiful dressing to the burgeoning feminist movement of the 20th century and how women used the skirt to reveal her growing independence and liberation from the constraints of society and repressive clothing. The author's knowledge of tailoring and designing shows in her narrative and helps to recreate the images in one's mind. But there is a big problem with the work is that the copy I read had no graphics, no illustrations, no images to visualize the silhouettes the author discussed. I found myself constantly googling the designers or the specific piece discussed come alive. To create a work on the importance of fashion and not have illustrations and graphics is a huge setback. ( In the publicity for the upcoming publication, it does say it is beautifully illustrated. I hope so. )
But Skirts is more than just an homage to beautiful fashion of 20th century feminine dressing. The author charts the burgeoning women's movement and how it was reflected in fashion. As women became more emboldened and brave, their hemlines rose, their silhouettes became more revealing, and their willingness to flaunt their femininity and sexuality grew. As Edith Head stated " Make the clothes loose enough to prove I'm a lady, but tight enough to show 'em I'm a woman. " Chrisman-Campbell ties her story of social history to changing concepts of feminity and the emergence of modern feminism. Women use clothes to visually express their new found place in society and as a means to express their ever shifting sensuality and sexuality. By the mid 20th century, women wear started to wear pants in public, Skirts shows how women, even with the choice to wear trousers, embraced new dress fashions to empower themselves. The introduction of the mini skirt, the "naked dress" (think Marilyn Monroe singing to JFK) and the bodycon dress shows the power of illusion to create a new version of female empowerment.
Skirts is a fun read especially for me since I love fashion and am also an experienced seamstress. I have been sewing my own clothes since my mom taught me to sew at age 4. Tracking the development of the modern female form and the clothes that shape it offered a wonderful glimpse into the denizens of artisans and crafts people who created the working pieces of art that women wear. As a child of the 60s I remember my first mini skirt and midi skirt. We forget how shocking these fashion choices were. As Skirts points out, the female embrace of dresses is not only a fashion statement but a political one that reveals our new found place in the public hierarchy. .
When you pick out your clothes in the morning how do you pick out your outfit? Do you pick it out based on the events of the day? Comfort? Or do you go into the morning looking for an outfit that will make you feel powerful and confident?
The book skirts was one that caught my interest from the beginning and this book did not disappoint. This book went from the Egyptian pleating styles and Grecian dresses to Dior’s New Look and then the feminists movements who went against the midi skirt.
This book was so interesting and if you love fashion and/or history this is a book I would for sure recommend.
This book offers a look at the history of women's wear throughout the twentieth century, focusing on the trends, styles, and fashion icons that made it the revolutionary century it really was. Each chapter focuses on a different style or trend, offering a lot of information on clothes that I had never heard of or knew little about. I have very little knowledge of fashion history, but this book was written well and in in a way that is interesting and easy to follow. My only complaint is that I wish there had been more pictures, particularly at the beginning of each chapter, as I am not familiar with the styles discussed and would have like a visual to better understand the topic.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Skirts, but I found it to be very informative and I loved it. I am a huge dress and skirt lover and rarely wear pants myself and I found it really interesting to learn the history of different styles of skirts throughout different time periods. The author was very detailed and you could tell she knows her stuff and is a big fashion lover. I am glad I read this and it has given me a lot to think about!
I made short work of this fashion history looks back at the skirt and it’s place in fashion lore as well as American history.
From the mini skirt to Chanel’s essential black dress, the author gives an abbreviated look at the evolution of women and their Relationships with pants.
I am not a fashion person, nor trend setter, but I’ve always liked looking at how styles, fabrics, and designs have evolved over time.
It’s a good introduction to the skirts women were often forced to war in the 20th century.
Ironically, I despise skirts and don’t even own one. It’s pant for me, all day, everyday!
First off, I am a fan of fashion history. This was catnip. It reads incredibly fast as well. Instead of being organized purely chronologically, as I would expect, it was structured around specific types of skirts and moved in a progression from there. That way, we got to watch the little black dress and the mini live in their own worlds. Genuinely fun read on garment history and feminism. I had a blast reading it and now really just want to dive into the Dressed podcast's archives to see if the author has ever been a guest.
Oh my goodness but this was such an unbelievably interesting book! I too have a fascination with skirts, and found the history of them and their role in feminism and political movements to be holy informative and entertaining. The writing style is marvelous, it's like talking with your favorite super smart aunt - fun facts are dropped in left, right, and center, and paired with anecdotes and interesting historical tidbits that made it feel more like storytelling than information relaying. I loved it!
This is an amazing work of history, focused on women's clothing and how it both reflected and influenced the times. I loved reading it! As a woman, I wear jeans and pants for work many days. This book had me thinking about how my clothing speaks for me. A very interesting, engaging book that is not dry, but energetic in its appreciation for women and what we wear.
ARC Copy - a few problems.
Page 100 of 516 - "...continued to wear corsets and confining skits [oops!] well into the 1920s."
Page 138 of 516 - "Military accouterments..." misspelled
Page 196 of 516 - "...elastic...is frequently used to hold [the?] top of the dress..."
No others I have spotted yet.
This book provides an entertaining history of skirts (and dresses). Rather than taking a chronological approach, the author focuses on some major styles--such as tennis dresses, mini skirts, midi skirts, LBD, etc.--which is not only unique but highlights the often cyclical nature of fashion.
Although I enjoy reading non-fiction, I really didn't expect this book to be such a quick, entertaining read--unputdownable, really, although I had to take frequent breaks to learn more about designers and celebrities mentioned. My only real complaint is the lack of illustrations, but perhaps there are photographs in the completed version (I read an ARC). Highly recommended for anyone who even has a passing interest in fashion or history. #Skirts #NetGalley
Kimberly-Chrisman- Campbell’s Skirts: Fashioning Modern Femininity Twentieth Century is a delightful, well-researched book covering different trends in skirts-dresses in the twentieth century. For me, I see this as a book that I will keep on my shelf to refer to when reading historical fiction. I can’t wait to purchase a hard copy to be able to see the illustrations as the Kindle review copy did not have any. It was also difficult to go to the end notes. I tried to read this over a couple of weeks as there were so many examples and people to think about in each chapter. While reading, I also thought about my great-grandmother, grandmother,, mother, and myself. As a high school student in the late sixties, pants were not allowed in school except to wear under my dress or a-line or pencil skirt when it was cold. Of course, the pants went in my locker during school. After high school, I worked in a bank and pants were not allowed until 1973 and then only coordinated pant-suits. While reading, I found myself digging out pictures of my mother and my grandmother to look at their dresses. I thought the author did a wonderful job of using sports stars (Serena), actresses,……..as examples. Historical fiction is my favorite genre, and I can see myself referring to the different illustrations in this book while reading.
My thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for an ARC of this book. The opinions in this review are my own.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
"Skirts" by Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell is an interesting and engaging social history about the impact and meaning of skirted attire throughout history. The book is well-paced and takes readers through this history via discussions of multiple iconic skirt/dress designs. Prior to reading "Skirts" I was unaware of a lot of the fashion history that was discussed throughout the book, but I found so many sections to be fascinating. As a lover of social history and micro-history narratives, I really enjoyed "Skirts" and would recommend it to like-minded readers and anyone interested in the intersection of fashion history and feminist theory.
As someone who loves dresses and skirts and finds them more comfortable than pants, this book fascinated me. I had no idea women were still getting arrested for wearing pants in America in the 1930s. I walked away with a new perspective on fashion and what I personally wear.
I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in 20th century fashion and the societal shifts that influenced fashion.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Skirts is an interesting read about women's fashion over the years - dresses, skirts - anything but pants! I found parts of the history really interesting and yet at the same time wanted a bit more around implications of women's fashion as linked to women's movements throughout the years. I for one was thrilled when I did not have to wear a skirt, pantyhose and an ugly blouse with a bow to work anymore and instead could wear "slacks" or something more comfortable especially in the cold midwestern winters. There were not photos in this book but this may because I read an advance review copy in exchange for my honest review. This book is a quick read and has some interesting facts so for readers who are especially interested in fashion and fashion history, you will find this a fascinating read. Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for an ARC.
I didn’t know what to expect…how could there be enough to say about skirts? Well…I certainly found out!
This book takes us from the Little Back Dress to miniskirts and everything in between. The author meticulously researched her subject and made it engaging by using examples from well known people and celebrities.
I found the book somewhat of a trip down memory lane with explanations of poodle skirts and midi skirts right down to the onset of pant suits
I am not especially interested in fashion but I found this book fascinating.. I think anyone interested in fashion and the fashion industry would be thrilled.
Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.
Thank you Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for access to this arc.
Once again I got off to a rough start with another book and had to power through the first chapter or two before I felt more at ease. This book should maybe be called “Dresses” because that’s the focus though I’ll admit that the changes in the hemlines of the skirt parts of dresses and later the chapters in minis and midi skirts are important.
Chrisman-Campbell is a “fashion historian, curator, and journalist” and she approaches the subject as a lesson in the changes in women’s status/jobs/freedom/etc as told via the clothes of the 20th century though now (2022). It started off a bit dry and technical, more like a textbook or thesis in the intro and first chapter. Then either I got used to this style or she relaxed a bit and it became more interesting to me.
I certainly learned a great deal about fashion designers I’d never heard of including Mariano Fortuny images of whose Delphos dress make me want to have one. I had seen pictures of Suzanne Lenglen displaying her amazing athleticism on tennis courts but didn’t realize how she revolutionized what women wore to play the sport and indeed, along with other tennis players, helped open a new type of fashion – ‘sportswear.’
Whatever is in fashion one decade will almost certainly spark the opposite the next ten years. World War I caused women to turn away from the strict mourning of the Victorian age as after 1918 too much of the population would be in black but then along came the first LBD. Bias cut (using lots of fabric) dresses of the 30s and the first strapless dresses both fell victim to war rationing only for Edith Head’s dress that Elizabeth Taylor wore and Dior’s first collection to reinvent them. Bar Dresses, Taxi Dresses, and Wrap Dresses all came along. Some stayed or were reimagined. Mini skirts were initially more about youth than sex. They were followed by midi skirts in the 70s that caused mass rebellion against fashion houses dictating what women would wear.
Though there were a few nods to women of color (Serena Williams’s daring tennis court styles) early in the book, it took until almost the end before Chrisman-Campbell began talking about them, and anyone other than white and skinny women, again. Jennifer Lopez and her famous Versace gown was instrumental in getting Google to work on Google pics. Marilyn Monroe might have done her iconic “nude” dress in 1962 but Rihanna’s statement “naked dress” in 2014 brought the style forward 50 years and amped it up. Wither dresses? Well men are wearing them now, too.
The arc I read did not have any images but the publishers promise that the finished book will include them. This might be a better book for scholars rather than the casual reader but I did learn quite a bit. B-
ARC Review: Skirts
Thanks @stmartinspress for my copy of this book - it’s out tomorrow!
I love picking up nonfiction books that actually keep my interest! While the beginning of this book was a bit slow for me, once it moved in to discussing the history of women’s fashion, I was sold.
I loved how this book was broken down. Each chapter was devoted to a different fashion (tennis skirts, strapless dresses) and went into that style’s origins and where it has ended up today. I also really enjoyed reading about how these styles ended up being so big across many decades - was anyone else in a bandage dress chokehold 10 years ago?
Overall I enjoyed this book so much! It was a quick read and now have many more fun facts added to my repertoire which is alway appreciated 😂
Read this if you:
- Have ever wondered how your favourite clothing items came to be
- Appreciate the freedom of not having your legs trapped in pants
- Need an easy nonfiction to make you feel smarter
4 out of 5 Stars
***ARC received from St. Martins Press and NetGalley in exchange for honest review, opinions are all my own. Thank you!***
Skirts is a focus on the shifts women's fashion of the 21st century. It is broken up into ten chapters covering from the little black dress to the changing fashion of tennis attire, some of the styles more recognizable than others. I want to note that my ARC did not have any images so I did a lot of googling which is definitely helpful for designs that may not be as common knowledge or you may only recognize them by sight but not know their names. Which for me was the Bar Suit, immediately recognized it had no idea what it was called but if you have a more in depth knowledge of fashion the images will be a nice added bonus.
Skirts is broken up into ten chapters about fashion trends that had both long and short impacts on fashion. Some chapters are definitely more fleshed out and longer than others, whether that was due to the fashion having a longer impact, more fashion designers involved in the trend or the writers personal preference I can’t say for sure. I did enjoying learning about all the different fashion designers that are named throughout the book and how fashion designers took inspirations from older styles or the changing environment, particularly after WWII to create styles that left the war behind.
One thing I wish the book had done was be written in a chronological order. This way the book could have more easily followed the evolution of fashion and how skirts continue to find ways to fit into the ever changing fashion. Each chapter follows the evolution of certain styles but then when you move into the next chapter the timeline reverts back. While the book touches on the accessibility of designer styles based on a persons ability to afford it I wish it had dealt more with the changes in styles and body shapes. Because most of the styles are designed specifically for thin, white, rich women so there is not much discussion on poorer or Black women but doing it in chronological order could have covered how these issues.
For me, I personally found the chapter on tennis attire the most interesting and easiest to follow the timeline from the Suzanne Lenglen to the Williams sister. Its also one of the fashions that isn’t impacted by access to fabrics but more the way the game became more active forcing fashion to keep up instead of the wearer having to keep up with the changing fashion game.
Overall, I really did like this book although I think if you are a history or fashion enthusiast you may get a lot more enjoyment out of this book. I enjoyed learning about the different types of fashion but also about the designers themselves and the impact society and fashion had on each other. I’ll probably pick up the hard copy just so I can see the pictures that were chosen to go along with each chapter.
A writer writes a book about the history of skirts? Crazy, right? Surprise it's actually quite interesting. She looks at how skirts have changed throughout the years.
Skirts helped revolutionize the woman's movement. They have gone under many changes throughout the years, and just like any fashion, the different lengths come and go as fashionable. I wish there would have been pictures but I received the Kindle ARC and there weren't any. They may be in the final book.
I learned some interesting facts while reading, which I always like in a book. What amazed me, perhaps the most, was why the poodle skirt was called a poodle skirt. Believe me, it's not what you think, unless you are some fashion guru.
If you are interested in fashion or history, I recommend you grab this book. It published on September 6, 2022.
Thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for the Kindle Version of the book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
📚 Happy Reading 📚😊
I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in fashion. First, I love how each chapter is broken down by piece/silhouette. It was a nice touch and satisfying to read. Second, I love the sheer amount of detail and interesting stories/anecdotes that the author included. Simply put, I had no idea I was reading a nonfiction book. This was light and not very dense. A pleasure to read throughout the month - I would pick it up and read a chapter every once in awhile. I was going to complain that the author did not address class or race or politics, but she did all of that in the conclusion.
I was particularly interested in all of the practicality facts. There were even some cool tidbits about the history of cocktails.
Thanks to the publisher for a NetGalley copy!
This is a really interesting read tracing the cultural and fashion history of dresses and skirts from ancient Greece to the present. It is well researched and has lots of footnotes, but the tone is not so academic that a casual reader couldn't enjoy it. I hope this author takes on other topics in this vein.
Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to review a temporary digital ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.
Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of Skirts in exchange for an honest review. There is a lot in this book that I did not know. The information is delivered well and it was interesting. Each chapter encompassed a different fashion for dresses or skirts.
I am not usually one for anything related to fashion. While Skirts is a history and the evolvement of women's wear...it is also about the struggle of women with regard to their femininity and place in a man's world. My favorite portion of this was when the author described the tennis clothing "war". I laughed a few times during this section.
I received and E-ARC for this one and will definitely need to check out the physical. I missed all of the beautiful pictures this is said to have. Despite not having these visuals, this was a very interesting and well done book. There was so much I didn't know about the history of women's clothing, and really enjoyed this one.
I appreciate St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the review copy. All opinions are my own.
Skirts is an absorbing, informative look at how dress has shaped the lives of women over the centuries. This isn' t a dry history book but a fascinating narrative complete with examples and stories including movie trivia for the most recent fashions. For example, the colourful costumes of Star Trek were used to encourage viewers to get colour TVs! It's taken me a while to get through this as I kept Googling the different people and outfits to get a fuller picture of what I was reading (I was reading the Kindle version without photos provided by NetGalley). This was such an interesting guide that I'll definitely be buying the hardcover book to keep in my fashion library.
You don't have to be a historian to enjoy this book. The author has done an outstanding job making fashion history come to life. A must have for every fashionista!
As a woman who wears skirts and dresses almost exclusively, "Skits" by Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell was an enjoyable and informative read. I was excited to learn the histories of my favorite vintage styles, many of which grace my work wardrobe today. This book is a fascinating history of women's fashions, including how they were, and still are, influenced by the political and social climates of the day. The author deftly tied in information about women's liberation movement, and finished the book with commentary and opinions on how modern fashion isn't only for slender, white women; indeed skirts need not be just for women at all! In a world where we are all encouraged to blend in, I loved reading about how fashion designers over the years gave women a way to stand out in skirts and dresses.
This book inspired me to search out fashions of which I was previously unaware, such as the Delphos dress (I must get my hands on one!) and the Bar Suit (gorgeous!). I already own many of the others detailed in the book, such as the wrap dress (I could absolutely live in DVF), mini skirts (so cute with tights), and the Bodycon Dress (great for all confident bodies!).
Because the advanced digital copy of this book I received from NetGalley did not contain the illustrations, I will certainly purchase a hard copy of this book, not only for the promised pictures, but because it is a book I will read again and again. Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for sharing it with me!
I love a good social history and this largely did not disappoint. I am at the other end of the spectrum, I wore pants all my life until I realized about six years ago I vastly preferred dresses and haven't looked back. Until I read this book., I liked the parts about skirts and the civil rights movements but I was puzzled at the time spent on the Nazi Coco Chanel, Yes, her influence was strong but I would have preferred more on the average person, not a designer. I was hoping for a more intersectional conversation and some more diversity beyond Serena Williams, who was great to include but I felt like there could have been more. Maybe they didn't want to make the book too long?
The author brings to readers a fact filled history of what women wore and why throughout the twentieth century. I found the book to be interesting and enlightening. Highly recommended.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from St. Martin's through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.
I have to admit after reading this, I was itching to go buy a dress! When I was much younger I loved wearing dresses, my mom made me beautiful ones! My downfall... a private school. Dresses only, past your fingers, tights or knee socks only. That kind of killed it for me. I do still wear a dress or a skirt here and there though.
It was interesting learning a handful of things on the body, who did what, who made what, and women fighting to wear a comfortable dress and not what was expected of them by many others. Those people should have a week or two wearing what they were so pursuant on what was proper, and I bet they will have changed their minds!
Enjoyed reading about the creators/designers and what created their ideas to come out. I was slightly confused why we were in one century in one sentence, and a different century in the next sentence, then going back to the previous century. I'm thinking they could have been Jesuit in the dance chapter but writing them in century order, just a thought. I was also slightly bummed there were no pictures. Yes I know outs ab arc and on a kindle, but I've read arc's on my kindle that did have pictures. Not expecting all the pictures, but dine would have been nice, I spent a bit of time to go to Google and set a picture of a dress there were talking about.
But over all I did really like the book and if you are into skirts and dresses, and curious who created what, this book is for you!
Thank you St. Martin's Press for allowing me to read this through Netgalley for my honest opinion!
Not just a structured piece of fabric…
I had no idea. None. What I thought was simply another option in my clothes closet was actually a complex part of women’s history. A social analysis, it was broad in its scope, quoting from many sources and time periods, explaining the significance and the life of its own that is the skirt…
Instead of a dry treatise, it was a wealth of information conveyed in an informative, entertaining style. Pants vs skirt wasn’t just a decision based on weather but of a woman’s autonomy and self-expression. Not just a fashion choice but a reflection of the age in which they existed and the tug of war happening between women and the options open (or closed) to them. I loved the fashion/design aspects, detailed by time period, diving into the people who created and the audience that consumed their offerings. The politics, I admit, was more of a surprise than I thought. Little did I know the decades of back and forth, the politics that surrounded the skirt and the little black dress.
An unexpected foray into a topic I knew little of but am thrilled to have taken a chance. If you are a fashionista and love history (social or otherwise) you will love it as much as I did!
*Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher
I found this book to be thoroughly enjoyable and fascinating. The author delves into the history of skirts and dresses in an informative and interesting manner. The chapters are engrossing, each dealing with specific types of dresses or skirts that have made historical impacts on society. The latter chapters also provide insight into more current and recent instances of the evolution of this garment. I was provided an ARC of this book, so I did not have access to the photos and illustrations, my only regret.
I recieved an eArc of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
The most important thing I can say is get a version of the book with pictures. I have some historical fashion knowledge but even I found the book difficult to follow with it's pace connecting different trends. Now that's not saying the book is bad, it's really good, It's just that its premised on connecting trends like The Little Black Dress over several decades which as one can imagine has varied in appearance over time.
The book successfully walks the line between focusing on fashion trends and social trends which makes it my favorite type of fashion history.
"Skirts" is a look back at women's dress and skirt fashions, not just as articles of clothing, but as icons of culture. Each chapter in the book examines a different kind of skirt or dress throughout the twentieth century. I am sure this book is more interesting when the photos and pictures are included (they were not in this ARC). This book would appeal to readers who are interested in the history of fashions and their impact on the lives of the wearers, as well as what they represent in society.
I received this book from the publisher and from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions represented here are my own.
This book gives a historical view of the skirt in modern day fashion. I found it quite interesting. Chrisman-Campbell took great care to explain the triumphs & controversies of the skirts. I found this book quite informative.
Skirts: Fashioning Modern Feminity in the Twentieth Century is a well-researched and well written book about women’s fashions in the last century. Chrisman-Campbell details the relationship between women’s fashion and current events. As a fashion historian and expert, she brings into play the architecture of fashion as well as the development of newer textiles, which open new doors for fashion designers. Since the readers advanced copy that I received from NetGalley did not have images, I found myself going down the Google rabbit-hole many times as I researched the styles to better understand the text.
From the Fortuny pleated dress to Dior’s Bar Suit to Von Furstenberg’s wrap dress, I was mesmerized by this book. Who would have thought that so much went into the development of a strapless gown? And who knew what a Bar Suit was? This is a must-read for the fashion conscious woman who enjoys history.
My thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for an ARC of this book in exchange for and honest review.
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This book had a lot of information in it that I didn't know. I feel like I learned a lot from reading it.
I found this novel after having just watched a documentary on the History channel. How clothing has evolved is very interesting and just the research Criswell-Campbell must have done is intriguing enough. Women have been controlled in many ways and clothing is just one of those ways.
This is a great work of nonfiction for those in women's studies, historical fans, and those interested in fashion.
This well researched and written book would make a perfect gift for someone who has an interest in the evolution of women’s clothing, the dress and skirt. Seeing clothing over the last 150 years through the eye of history is fascinating. It is filled with information technical and general with many "aha" moments. Perfect for that niche reader!
Much more interesting than I expected. The cultural, historical, fashion evolution of the skirt! So different than anything I am more commonly reading. I highly recommend it!
The history of skirts - some of it was definitely interesting but I wish there were pictures. I think there might be in the hard copy. I spent a while googling things that were referenced in the book. It was a reasonably quick read and there was some history that I wasn't aware of about how fashion was influenced by what was happening in society. Overall an interesting, decent book but not great.
This is a fashion and history lesson. (Sometimes there’s way too much information though.)
I wish there were photos alongside the text. I’ve been looking up a lot of designers and wow! Some of their pieces are amazing.
The author shows how clothes were used to keep women “in line.” Her approach, however, is light. She lets the reader come to her own conclusions (rather than writing, “Isn’t this awful?”)
Thoroughly researched and perfectly attainable, this history of womens fashion puts that fabric below the waist under the microscope. Giving us insight into social movements and fashion battles, Chrisman-Campbell creates a hemline through history and takes us on an entertaining journey past the simple fabric and into depths of female expression. Sometimes the women (and men) in skirts are dictated to, but sometimes, in the best ways, they dictate the importance of how much leg they show, how much space they take up, and how they get to be seen.
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