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  • Writer's pictureLonda

The Lost Art of Dress – Sharing Session 1

I learn so many great things when meeting other ‘sewing women’ as I travel and teach!!!  One of those blessings was a gal sharing with me in Maitland, Florida in March about a wonderful book she had read all about dressing in America…  The Lost Art of Dress:  The Women Who Once Made America Stylish by Linda Przybyszewski.  I found I couldn’t just read it – I reminisced, understood, nodded my head constantly, giggled, AND found I just had to take notes!

I haven’t come across it in this book yet, but if you were taught, like me, that one should NEVER wear white shoes before Memorial Day, NOR after Labor Day…you’ll enjoy this book as much as I am!  Since my college degree is in ‘Home Economics’, believe me – I identify with all of what I read here – quite intimately!

In this and subsequent posts, I will share tidbits of this great book, but you MUST go get a copy for yourself! for $21.59 – the most entertaining twenty+ bucks you’ll have spent in a long time, I promise!

One review says:

“Largely a history of women’s attire in the first half of the 20th century and the social and aesthetic forces that shaped it, “The Lost Art of Dress’’ also serves as a call to American women to reconsider the importance of personal fashion.”   

I’ll just bet you agree with me in what this quote has to say…

The Lost Art of Dress

The Lost Art of Dress

“Clothing has always been about more than simply covering the body; it reflects economics, power, gender, race, art, culture, community. In America a century ago, it was one of the few arenas (along with child care) in which women were expected to be knowledgeable and play a role, whether as consumers or creators (usually both).”

And from the Introduction, Linda writes:

“…hundreds of books and pamphlets were written to teach the American woman how to dress for the twentieth century.  Millions of girls read them in home economics classes and in 4-H clothing clubs. 

The books were written by a remarkable group of women who worked as teachers, writers, retailers, and designers.  They offered advice in classrooms, on radio broadcasts, at women’s clubs, and in magazines.  They even enlisted the federal government in their efforts through the Bureau of Home Economics.  I call theses women the “Dress Doctors” after a story told by Mary Brooks Picken.”   

Or, how about this……. I shutter to think what Jessica DAves might say if she saw what is commonplace today – even at a church service or funeral – or even a wedding!

“The absurdity of a busty lady with a dowager’s hump and substantial legs appearing in the streets in a sleeveless shirt, above the knees, is something horrible to contemplate.”  Jessica Daves 1967.  

“The Dress Doctors are  forgotten, but deserve our attention.  How valuable would this advice be today when American women are mired in credit-card debt, urged to shopping frenzy, and when the most common yardstick of attractiveness is who’s wearing the shortest dress??  …. Today Americans are known for their sloppy dressing, but it was not always so.  An Englishwoman who came to the States after WW2 marveled at ‘the inherent good taste’ of the American woman.  But American women weren’t born with good taste.  They learned it form the Dress Doctors .  And we can learn it again.”

Enough of a ‘taste’ to go and order YOUR copy?

I’d love to start a dialogue here at my BLOG with your comments and sharing.

Stay tuned for more in Sharing Session 2, coming NEXT week.  

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