Small Town Simple

The Simplicity Adventures of a Mother and Daughter

“The Lost Art of Dress”

The Lost Art of DressThere is no denying that clothes say a lot about us.  They make a first impression.  They say whether or not we respect ourselves.  They describe our personalities.  The flip side is that retailers work very hard to convince us that we need to buy lots of cheaply priced clothing so they can stay in business.  And we end up with closets and drawers full of clothes that we neither need nor wear.  Much of those same items are made of flimsy material,  sewn by hard labor that is poorly recompensed and include a trend that will quickly “date” the item, sending us right back to the store for more.  So it was with real interest that I delved into the book, The Lost Art of Dress by Linda Przybyszewski.

I have seen Ms. Przybyszewski interviewed on television and I’ve listened to her on NPR.  Her conversations intrigued me so much that I eagerly anticipated delving between the covers of her book.  And it proved to be a delightful and informative read!  Tracking the art of dress from the advent of our Industrial Revolution, Ms. Przybyszewski paints a vivid picture of decline in the presentation of ourselves in correlation with mass production, women making a mark on 20th century events, including the move into the work force and the growth of suburbia and our relocation away from downtown stores that were the mainstay of fashion.

Following the expertise of so many women that drove the art of dressing, Ms. Przybyszewski  collectively referred to these women as the Dress Doctors.  Talented women all, they showed women how to dress using color, design and textures, how to care for their clothing, and how to dress well on a budget.  These Dress Doctors taught the middle class, the working class,  the farm girl, the high school and college student and the working woman.  They taught women that it wasn’t about money, it was about knowledge and how to make the most of what we have!  And it didn’t take a lot.  It was about art – of getting to know ourselves, our best qualities, our best colors and how to enhance that with our dress.

The author has unearthed some amazing stories of craft, utility, creativity and pride.  In such a short length of time we now find ourselves far removed from the talents of those everyday women.  The Lost Art of Dress is part sociology, part history and part culture and upon completion it will make you walk to your closet and reassess your wardrobe.  I did.

 xo, Carolyn       

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