The Dress of the People: Everyday Fashion in Eighteenth-Century England / Edition 1

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Overview

The material lives of ordinary English men and women were transformed in the years following the restoration of Charles II in 1660. Tea and sugar, the fruits of British mercantile and colonial expansion, altered their diets. Pendulum clocks and Staffordshire pottery, the products of British manufacturing ingenuity, enriched their homes. But it was in their clothing that ordinary people enjoyed the greatest change in their material lives. This book retrieves the unknown story of ordinary consumers in eighteenth-century England and provides a wealth of information about what they wore.

John Styles reveals that ownership of new fabrics and new fashions was not confined to the rich but extended far down the social scale to the small farmers, day laborers, and petty tradespeople who formed a majority of the population. The author focuses on the clothes ordinary people wore, the ways they acquired them, and the meanings they attached to them, shedding new light on all types of attire and the occasions on which they were worn.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal

This scholarly work maps new territory in the understanding of 18th-century material culture; specifically, the clothing selected and worn by ordinary Englishmen and Englishwomen. Styles (history, Univ. of Hertfordshire; coeditor, Gender, Taste and Material Culture in Britain and North America, 1700-1830) draws on an evocative array of primary sources to argue his thesis that the working poor had more choice in dress and greater fashion awareness than was previously believed. His sources include both the textual (probate inventories and criminal-court records) and the visual (paintings, prints, and textiles). Fabric swatches from the admissions records at the London Foundling Hospital archives provide especially poignant illustrations. Eminently readable, this volume is most appropriate for academic collections, but its themes of economics, history, and popular material culture-together with its photographs of rare fabrics-make it a useful resource for costumers as well.
—Nancy B. Turner Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300121193
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

John Styles is research professor in history, University of Hertfordshire, and coeditor (with Amanda Vickery) of Gender, Taste and Material Culture in Britain and North America, 1700–1830, published by Yale University Press.

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