On Teaching Fashion: Inspiring Reading – Part II

Reading on the sofa by joninonatan. 

This is the second post on my list of special books that I enjoy using in my classroom and recommend to fashionistas and fashion professors.  Click here to read last week’s post.

The first two books this week are from the Victoria and Albert Museum:  Historical Fashion in Detail: The 17th and 18th Centuries by Avril Hart and Susan North, and Four Hundred Years of Fashion, edited by Natalie Rothstein.  Today, they are both classics from the V&A’s library of dress history texts featuring the requisite stunning photographs of clothing and details.

Historical Fashion in Detail, as the title suggests, focuses on the details of construction and embellishment:  stitching, seams, gathers, collars, trimmings, applied decoration, and more.  Both women’s and men’s clothing are covered and the photographs are clear and very close up.  I use this book in my fashion history course and others, to illustrate how men’s and women’s clothing were equally ornate, and how embroidery and lace were not gendered signs of femininity in the 17th and 18th centuries in the way that they are today. 

Four Hundred Years covers items of women’s and men’s dress, including accessories, in the V&A’s collection.  The book was first published in 1984, and covers the 1600s through the early 1980s.  This book describes in detail the museum’s dress collection, including the provenance of many artifacts, plus information on what items the collection lacks.  Apparently, at the time the book was written, the collection was in need of 1950s ultra-sheer nylon stockings.  If the V&A is still in need today, I’d be happy to supply them a pair from my personal collection and deliver them personally.  Of course, the book also says that the museum lacks examples from Sonia Rykiel, Karl Lagerfeld, and Thierry Mugler.  I think we can safely assume that the collection has been rounded out since 1984.  

Third, (fashionistas who aren’t teachers, feel free to pass over this one) is McKeachie’s Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers by McKeachie and Svinicki.  McKeachie’s Teaching Tips was a book I purchased as a new instructor and I have found its numerous tips to be very useful.  It covers the basics, such as

  • lesson plans, reading assignments, lecturing, and discussions 
  • testing, cheating, motivation, and cultural diversity; and
  • large classes, laboratory classes and distance education. 

This book is one of my recommendations because of its wide array of ideas and methods, and I heartily recommend it for new instructors looking for coverage of the essentials of college teaching in one text.

Lastly, a fairly recent text, The Men’s Fashion Reader, edited by Andrew Reilly and Sarah Cosbey, is a book that I was delighted to find when it came out last year.  The text consists of 33 readings on themes such as men’s dress history, masculinity, culture, identity, body image, and more.  These scholarly works fill in many of the gaps that my fashion textbooks often contain, as some of them have a subtle (or sometimes entirely overt) neglect of the male consumer of fashion.  Each year, although I regularly have more women enrolled in my classes than men, I continue to have increasing numbers of men in my classes.  This text helps my lessons contain a wider range of history and cultural and consumer experiences. 

Have you read any of this week’s titles?  What are your favorite fashion titles that you return to again and again?  Leave me a comment and let me know.

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