Underwear: a History

Front Cover
Theatre Arts Books, 1972 - Underwear - 160 pages
" 'Without foundations there can be no fashion', said Christian Dior. He might equally well have said: 'Without fashion there can be no foundations', for fashion is a shape, a changing shape, and that shape is mainly, and sometimes even wholly, formed and controlled by what is worn underneath it - by the corset and other underwear. To the student of the history of fashion it is hardly less essential to understand the contribution of the unseen than of the visible elements in the constantly changing feminine outline (and it is as well to stress that this book is concerned only with women's underwear). Elizabeth Ewing (an M.A. of Glasgow University, where she read English and Greek) has been closely connected with the fashion and foundationwear industries for many years. She is a fashion writer and historian. Her approach is given depth by an appreciation of the practical aspects of design, manufacture and application : what materials were used, how and by whom they were made up, how they were worn - these more mundane considerations are here for the first time given their proper weight. Although the book starts as far back as 3000 BC the prehistory of underwear remains shadowy at least until the reign of Elizabeth I. Thereafter Elizabeth Ewing traces in detail the part played by the hoop, stays, bum roll, panniers, petticoat, bodice, drawers, corset, brassiere, knickers, chemise, camisole and all the other contributors to what was outwardly seen. The influence of social pressures - women's emancipation, sport, the movement 'back to nature'; of the introduction of new materials and more sophisticated processes of manufacture; and always, overtly or covertly, of the sexual motivation underlying all fashion. Jean Webber's delicate line illustrations, and a full bibliography and index, complete this not unimportant contribution to the history of fashion." --

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