AB: Baumgarten – What Clothes Reveal

(This is an entry in the Annotated Bibliography.)

Baumgarten, Linda. What Clothes Reveal: The Language of Clothing in Colonial and Federal America: The Colonial Williamsburg Collection. Williamsburg, Virginia: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 2002. In association with Yale University Press, New Haven and London.

An enormous and beautiful book focusing on 18th century America and offering a wonderful social and cultural examination of clothes and society, with perspectives I truly respect. The foundational concepts of the book are very constructive, even for those studying periods or locations outside of the book’s focus. It addresses pervasive myths and challenges inherent to the study of historic clothing in a very effective way, such as the Scarlett O’Hara myth of tight-laced corsets and tiny waists. It is not instructional. It contains many color images; most are of 18th century or very early 19th century subjects. It contains extensive notes.

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