June 2002

Costume And Fashion: A Concise History

Thames And Hudson Inc.

  • 500 Fifth Ave.
  • New York , NY


A basic introduction to fashion through time...

This concise paperback is under 300 pages and is full of black-and-white and color illustrations which are keyed to each particular subject. The late James Laver was a leading British costume authority. American fashion historian Christina Probert wrote the last chapter of the book, covering the time periods from WW II into the early 1980s. abc Costume And Fashion xyz is both insightful and easy to read.

abc Costume And Fashion xyz covers costume history for men and women from prehistoric times through most of the 20th century in broad strokes. For instance, in the first half of the 16th century, most of the European upper class wore very bright colors, while Spanish costume was extremely subdued, particularly all-black garments. As Spain became more politically powerful, Europe adopted the somber Spanish mode of dress, even as the Spanish Armada sailed for the English coast. Laver is fond of incorporating historical data, pointing out the fact that when the English fashion turned to hats, Parliament decreed in 1571, that apprentices must continue to wear caps.

Laver reminds us several times of the very important concept of the differences between everyday and ceremonial dress and the influence of socioeconomic status on dress. The illustrations are detailed and include close-ups. abc Costume And Fashion xyz is a good basic introduction to the subject, guaranteed to entice the reader into further research.

Reviewer: Elizabeth Lady, FIDM Library Staff Member, S.F..