The Classic Ten

The Classic Ten by Nancy MacDonell Smith is around 200 pages of thoroughly researched details concerning the evolution of little black dresses, white shirts, cashmere sweaters, blue jeans, suits, high heels, pearl necklaces, lipstick, sneakers, and trench coats. Even if you don't care about fashion aside from looking put together for work, this book will change the way you look at clothes. I particularly enjoyed how the chapter on the suit highlighted gender inequality, the high heel and lipstick our views on sex, and both the white shirt and blue jeans for how they reflect economic democracy.

Favorite tidbits: Because women only wore black for mourning during the Victorian era, men found it alluring. It screamed, "I'm available and sexually experienced!"

Muslin disease is a nickname for tuberculosis. During the Napoleonic period, girls would wet their muslin dresses to make them sheer, and they would frequently catch colds for their efforts. Based on paintings, I'd always thought the dresses were opaque, but letters men sent to each other during that era suggest otherwise.

It takes 100 goats to make 22 cashmere sweaters.

Cowboys boots are the only high heels for men still being made.

During WWII, the American government decided not to cease production of lipstick as that would be too damaging to morale.


Anonymous said…
Sounds like a good little read...
Jael Paris said…
I'm a major bookworm, hence the avatar. This was one of the best books I've read all year, fashion related or not.
Rachel said…
Looks very interesting! Fashion, history, politics, pop culture, and more all in one book!
Anonymous said…
I'm going to buy and read this book, sounds very entertaining and educational for a fashion lover like myself!

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