Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans and Fashion, 1840-1900

Overview

In Dressed for the Photographer, Joan Severa gives a visual analysis of the dress of middle-class Americans from the mid-to-late 19th century. Using images and writings, she shows how even economically disadvantaged Americans could wear styles within a year or so of current fashion. This desire for fashion equality demonstrates that the possession of culture was more important than wealth or position in the community. In presenting a broad overview of common fashion, Severa gathers letters and diaries as well as ...
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Overview

In Dressed for the Photographer, Joan Severa gives a visual analysis of the dress of middle-class Americans from the mid-to-late 19th century. Using images and writings, she shows how even economically disadvantaged Americans could wear styles within a year or so of current fashion. This desire for fashion equality demonstrates that the possession of culture was more important than wealth or position in the community. In presenting a broad overview of common fashion, Severa gathers letters and diaries as well as photographs from various sources across the United States. She provides graphic evidence that ordinary Americans, when dressed in their finest attire, appeared very much the same as their wealthier neighbors. But upon closer examination, these photographs often reveal inconsistencies that betray the actual economic status of the sitter. These fascinating photographs coupled with Severa's insights offer an added dimension to our understanding of 19th-century Americans. Intended as an aid in dating costumes and photographs and as a guide for period costume replication, Dressed for the Photographer provides extensive information for understanding the social history and material culture of this period. It will be of interest to general readers as well as to social historians and those interested in fashion, costume, and material culture studies.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Arranged by decades, the 272 photographs presented here show the clothing and hair-style details introduced during the last half of the 19th century for men, women, and children. The commentary by clothing historian Severa explores these details and also examines the material culture, expectations, and socioeconomic conditions that affected the clothing choices depicted. An amazingly detailed and thorough reference. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780873385121
  • Publisher: Kent State University Press
  • Publication date: 10/27/1995
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 540
  • Sales rank: 740,798
  • Product dimensions: 8.78 (w) x 11.28 (h) x 1.63 (d)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2007

    Fantastic Reference

    This is a great reference book for clothing historians, or those interested in learning more about historic clothing in America. The book covers American clothing history from the 1840s until the end of the 19th century. It features pictures of men, women, children, and family portraits. A detailed analysis of the historic clothing accompanies each picture. Most pictures depict people of the upper and middle classes, and there are some pictures of the working/laboring classes. The nuances of clothing fashions (sleeve designs, skirt lengths, collars) are also described. The book seems quite well researched, using primary sources and secondary information to obtain a high level of accuracy. Overall, this is a wonderful book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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