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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