Cunnington, an early twentieth-century authority on fashion, argues that the Victorian matron was governed as much by current popular style as she was by instinct and custom. In a light, amusing, and highly readable account, he not only describes what Englishwomen wore in the nineteenth century but also explains why they clothed themselves as they did.
Enlivened with extracts from novels; correspondence from the columns of ladies' magazines; fashion descriptions and period advertisements of beauty aids; the volume traces changes in feminine dress and ideas decade by decade through the 1800s. The importance of being "in fashion" and the longing to imitate — in appearance — those in the same social group is closely examined, as is the desire to be sexually attractive and its counter-effort — to conceal sexual features.
A carefully researched work on a fascinating subject, this volume will appeal to a wide audience, encompassing feminists, sociologists, fashion historians, and costume designers.