Reading Books About Reading Dresses

Updated: Feb 10

By Alexandra Baddour

If you spend enough time talking to me, you’re bound to find out that I’m a huge historical fashion nerd.

One of the historical fashion Instagram accounts I follow is @howtoreadadress, run by fashion historian Lydia Edwards. On that account she looks at the details on historical clothing and compares modern high-fashion looks to historical garments with similar structure and details.

In 2017, Lydia Edwards published a book with the same title that examines surviving dresses from throughout history and points out silhouettes, colors, fabrics, and other details that are common in that era. I was lucky to receive a copy of the book for Christmas.

How to Read a Dress is divided into eleven chapters beginning in 1550 and ending in 1970 and each chapter is prefaced with a few pages of social and historical context. Notes on each dress are sometimes supplemented by photographs or paintings that help explain the point further.

How to Read a Dress is a great reference for anyone interested in historical or vintage fashion! And for anyone more interested in men’s fashion, Lydia Edwards has announced that a book on How to Read a Suit will be coming soon!

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Photo Credit

Alexandra Baddour (@alexbaddour)


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