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History in Review

A Dictionary of Costume and Fashion: Historic and Modern

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A Dictionary of Costume and Fashion: Historic and Modern
By Mary Brooks Picken. (Dover Publications, Mineola, New York: 1999. Pg. 397. Illustrations.) ISBN: 0-486-40294-0.

Reviewed by Auggie Moore - May 8, 2009

A Dictionary of Costume and Fashion: Historic and Modern is an essential reference book for anyone with an interest in fashion. The information in this book is presented in a traditional, dictionary format, with entries listed alphabetically and each with a brief definition of the term in question. A pronunciation guide is provided for difficult to pronounce terms. More than 750 line-cut drawings enhance the meaning of many of the entries. Two hundred and seven halftones that depict the changes in fashion from ancient costumes to those of the early 1900's, as well as a selection of national costumes, are also provided. As well, spelling variations and alternative definitions are also included, when relevant.

This is a dictionary that should be kept readily at hand by anyone who comes across fashion or costume terms on a regular basis or who wishes to increase their vocabulary on this subject. This book is of particular interest to historians, costumers, designers, writers, and readers of both fiction and nonfiction. The terms defined in this book included historic fashion and costume terms such as cordeliere, pantalets, farthingale, and paletot, as well as more modern terms such as ski boots, tuxedo, and polo shirt. Terms that cross the boundaries of time, such as kimono, tassel, and smock, as well as textile and color related terms are also included. You'll also find a nice selection of costume and fashion related terms such as haberdasher and residual shrinkage scattered throughout this dictionary.

Originally published in 1957 as The Fashion Dictionary, it is a relevant and useful, today, as it was when first published. In all, more than 10,000 words are defined in this book, making it a unique and essential reference book for anyone who has a need to discover the definitions of common fashion and costume terms, as well as for anyone who has ever had trouble finding definitions for rare terms such as trilby, lykopon, lihinga, instita, vair, or guimpe, or ever wondered what the sides of a Panama hat is called - its called a copa. In short, from aal to Zulu cloth, A Dictionary of Costume and Fashion: Historic and Modern is one of the best and most extensive dictionaries covering terms related to costumes and fashion that is currently available in English. Highly recommended for home, office, school, and library reference shelves!

Related Reviews:

Victorian Fashions, Selected by Carol Belanger Grafton.
379 black and white images that illustrate the development of women's fashions from 1871-1903.

1920's Fashions, from the B. Altman & Company.
A republication of select pages from the Altman Magazine 1921-1929, which includes hundreds of black & white illustrations, brief descriptions of the fashions illustrated, and it includes period pricing.

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