Filler
Photo of Shira

 

 

PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

A Review of

What People Wore

by Douglas Gorsline

 

---------------

Summary

This is a picture book showing line drawings of garment fashions over the course of several centuries. The book focuses on European fashions, but does contain a section on ancient Egypt. Cover

 

---------------

Fact Sheet

Title

What People Wore

Author

Douglas Gorsline

ISBN

0-486-28162-0

Publisher

Dover Publications, Inc.

Category

Non-Fiction: Costume Reference

Rating

StarStarStar

Number of Pages

242

Published In

1951

 

---------------

Description

Important note: This review focuses on this book's value as a resource for costuming for Middle Eastern dance. People interested in it as a resource for other purposes would probably evaluate it quite differently.

This picture book was originally published in 1951 by Bonanza Books under the title What People Wore: A Visual History of Dress from Ancient Times to Twentieth-Century America. Dover Books now offers it in reprinted form.

The book contains over 1,800 line drawings, with very minimal text. There are brief captions of 3-4 words at most identifying where and when each ensemble is from, and a few Historical Survey pages that offer a timeline of world events corresponding to the era of the costumes in each chapter.

The section on costuming of the ancient world contains approximately 15 pages and covers Greece, Egypt, Assyria, Persia, Crete, Israel, Rome, and Byzantium, with most of the space being devoted to Egypt, Rome, and Greece.

The European section is by far the most extensive section of the book, devoting 160 pages to the subject. Coverage begins with the ninth century and runs through 1918.

The American section focuses mostly on the 19th century and offers such colorful characters as cowboys, lumberjacks, frontiersmen, fur trappers, and urban dwellers, with the most recent images corresponding to 1925.

All of the illustrations in this book consist of detailed line drawings.

 

---------------

Is It Right for You?

 

You Will Probably Enjoy This Book If...

  • You need costume ideas for a Pharaonic theater piece.
  • You are looking for resources that show what European and U.S. attire looked like throughout history.
  • You're an art student learning to draw the drape of clothing, and you'd like some images of people clad in a variety of garments to practice copying.
  • You are planning to create or acquire a European-style costume for use in Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) events or Renaissance Faires.
  • You're researching the scandal surrounding "belly dance" in the United States in the 1890's and you'd like to see what the prudish American public was wearing at that time.

 

This Book Probably Isn't Right for You If...

  • You're seeking a source of information on historic garb of the Near East and North Africa.

 

---------------

What I Liked, What I Didn't

 

What I Liked:

  • The drawings are very detailed.
  • The book provides a rich source of information about European clothing of the Medieval and Renaissance eras.
  • The book includes close-ups of hair styles, hats, and shoes.
  • Every image is labeled by time period, social class, and country.
  • The book contains an image of a French woman from the early 20th century wearing harem pants!
  • The book provides a detailed bibliography, which should prove helpful to people who would like to explore the primary sources on which it is based.

 

What I Didn't Like:

  • The book is almost entirely devoted to Europe and the U.S., with no coverage of cultures that would be useful to a performer of Middle Eastern dance.
  • The information provided by the book ends with 1925.
  • The book does not contain any footnotes to help readers link the images with the primary sources from which they were drawn. There is only the bibliography - someone seeking the source of a specific drawing will be looking for a needle in a haystack.

 

---------------

Conclusion

I wouldn't recommend this book as a resource for performers of Near Eastern dance, because the only images of the Middle East or North Africa in this book are those dating from ancient times. For that reason, it's not useful as a resource in researching historical garb from that region, though it could be a helpful source if designing a Pharaonic costume.

For those researching European or 19th-century U.S. clothing, the book is much more useful. The line drawings don't provide information on fabric color or weave, but they do offer actionable information about cut and drape of the garments.

 

---------------

Disclosures

There is nothing to disclose. I have never had any contact with the people who created this book.


---------------

Copyright Notice

This entire web site is copyrighted. All rights reserved.

All articles, images, forms, scripts, directories, and product reviews on this web site are the property of Shira unless a different author/artist is identified. Material from this web site may not be posted on any other web site unless permission is first obtained from Shira.

Academic papers for school purposes may use information from this site only if the paper properly identifies the original article on Shira.net using appropriate citations (footnotes, end notes, etc.) and bibliography. Consult your instructor for instructions on how to do this.

If you wish to translate articles from Shira.net into a language other than English, Shira will be happy to post your translation here on Shira.net along with a note identifying you as the translator. This could include your photo and biography if you want it to. Contact Shira for more information. You may not post translations of Shira's articles on anybody else's web site, not even your own.

If you are a teacher, performer, or student of Middle Eastern dance, you may link directly to any page on this web site from either your blog or your own web site without first obtaining Shira's permission. Click here for link buttons and other information on how to link.

 

 

Explore more belly dance info:

Top >
Belly Dancing >
Product Reviews >
Index to Book Reviews

 

Share this page!

On Google+
 

On Facebook
 

 

 Top > Belly Dancing > Product Reviews > Index to Book Reviews

| Contact Shira | Links | Search this Site |