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Accessories of Dress Accessories of Dress
An Illustrated Encyclopedia. By Katherine Lester and Bess Viola Oerke. Drawings by Helen Westermann. (Dover Publications, Inc., New York: 2004. Pg. viii, 587. 644 Figures and 59 Plates) ISBN: 978-0-486-43378-3.

This book can be ordered directly from Dover Publications at: www.doverpublications.com
Reviewed by Auggie Moore - July 1, 2010

Originally published in 1940 under the intriguing title of An Illustrated History of those Frills and Furbelows of Fashion which Have Come to Be Known as: Accessories of Dress, this book has been republished under the title of Accessories of Dress: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. This is an unabridged reproduction of the original book, complete with more than 700 illustrations drawn from paintings, books, sculptures, archeological remains, drawings, sketches, and other pictorial resources.

Scholarly and very readable, the information in this book is organized into six parts covering:
  1. Accessories Worn on the Head - hat, veil, feathers, wig, patch, mask, earrings, hairpin, hairnet, comb and toilet accessories such as power and rouge.

  2. Accessories Worn at the Neck, Shoulders, and Waist - pins, brooches, beads, necklace, collars and cuffs, cravat, tie, shawl, girdle, belt.

  3. Accessories Worn on the Feet and Legs - shoes, buckles, hose, garters, gaiters.

  4. Accessories Worn on the Arm and Hand - bracelet, ring, gloves, watch.

  5. Accessories Carried in the Hand - walking stick, umbrella and parasol, handbag, handkerchief, fan, muff, mirror.

  6. Accessories Used on the Costume - button, embroidery, lace, fringe, tassel, fur, ribbon, braid, artificial flowers.
Broad in scope; this book covers accessories used from ancient times onward. The focus is on accessories used in the Western world and in ancient Egypt with negligible forays into the accessories of other regions. Each chapter includes a list of references and general dates are given for the various accessories discussed.

Despite the plethora of illustrations that accompany this text, it is geared more toward serious reading rather than as a book to glance through to get fashion ideas. Written by Katherine Lester and Bess Viola Oerke, this history of accessories can be easily incorporated into many courses dealing with history or social issues as a unique supplemental text. It will also serve as an interesting resource for both general readers and those with a professional interest in the history of fashion and costumes.

Related Reviews:

A Dictionary of Costume and Fashion: Historic and Modern, by Mary Brooks Picken.
A unique dictionary that provides definitions to more than 10,000 words related to costumes and fashion, from aal to Zulu cloth. It also includes more than 750 illustrations.

The History of Underclothes, by C. Willett and Phillis Cunnington.
Fascinating survey of various undergarments worn by the English over six centuries. Well-documented, scholarly presentation enhanced with over 100 period illustrations depicting laced-up bodice of the 12th century, embroidered linen drawers (1500s), hooped petticoat support (c. 1750), footed long drawers (1795), 19th-century bustles, early 19th-century corsets for men, Victorian "bust improvers," and much more.

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