Dress Codes: How the Laws of Fashion Made History
ISBN: 1501180061
EAN13: 9781501180064
Language: English
Pages: 464
Dimensions: 2.00" H x 9.00" L x 6.00" W
Weight: 1.00 lbs.
Format: Hardcover

Dress Codes: How the Laws of Fashion Made History

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Book Overview
A revelatory exploration of fashion through the ages that asks what our clothing reveals about ourselves and our society. Dress codes are as old as clothing itself. For centuries, clothing has been a wearable status symbol; fashion, a weapon in struggles for social change and dress codes, a way to maintain political control. Merchants dressed like princes and butchers' wives in gem-encrusted crowns were public enemies in societies structured by social hierarchy and defined by spectacle. In Tudor England, the common people were forbidden to wear silk, velvet, or fur and ballooning pants called trunk hose were considered a menace to good order. The Florentine patriarch Cosimo de Medici captured the power of fashion and dress codes when he remarked, One can make a gentleman from two yards of red cloth. Dress codes evolved along with the social and political ideals of the day, but they always reflected struggles for power and status. In the 1700s, South Carolina's Negro Act made it illegal for Black people to dress above their condition. In the twentieth century, the bobbed hair and form-fitting dresses worn by liberated flappers were banned in workplaces throughout the United States and the baggy zoot suits favored by Black and Latino men caused riots in cities from coast to coast. Even in today's more informal world, dress codes still determine what we wear, when we wear it--and what it all means. Workplaces ban braided hair and dreadlocks, long fingernails, large earrings, facial hair, and tattoos or require suits and ties, make-up, and high heels. And even when there are no written rules, implicit dress codes still influence opportunities and social mobility. Silicon Valley CEOs wear t-shirts and flip flops, setting the tone for an entire industry: women wearing fashionable dresses or high heels face ridicule and some venture capitalists refuse to invest in any company run by someone wearing a suit. In Dress Codes , law professor and cultural critic Richard Thompson Ford presents an insightful and entertaining history of the laws of fashion from the middle ages to the present day, a walk down history's red carpet to uncover and examine the canons, mores, and customs of clothing--rules that we often take for granted. After reading D ress Codes , you'll never think of fashion as superficial--and getting dressed will never be the same.

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