Reforming Women's Fashion, 1850-1920: Politics, Health, and Art

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Kent State University Press, 2003 - Design - 250 pages
This work focuses on the efforts toward reforming women's dress that took place in Europe and America in the latter half of the 18th century and the first decade of the 20th century, and the types of garments adopted by women to overcome the challenges posed by fashionable dress. It considers the many advocates for reform and examines their motives, their arguments for change, and how they promoted improvements in women's fashion. Though there was no single overarching dress reform movement, it reveals similarities among the arguments posed by diverse groups of reformers, including especially the equation of reform with an ideal image of improved health. Drawing on a variety of primary and secondary sources in the USA and Europe - including the popular press, advice books for women, allopathic and alternative medical literature, and books on aesthetics, art, health, and physical education - the text makes a significant contribution to costume studies, social history, and women's studies.

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Reforming women's fashion, 1850-1920: politics, health, and art

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Changes in dress are often triggered by changes in social attitudes, and here Cunningham (consumer & textile sciences, Ohio State Univ.) illustrates how ideas in health, art, and politics influenced ... Read full review


Introduction Fashion Health and Beauty
Trousers The Rational Alternative to Skirts
The Invisibles Hygienic Underwear Dress Systems and Making Fashion Rational
Artistic Dress in England Visions of Beauty and Health
Artistic Dress in America
Artistic Dress and the Modern Design Movement on the Continent
Fashion Dress Reform and the New Woman

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About the author (2003)

Patricia A. Cunningham is associate professor of consumer and textile sciences at Ohio State University.

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