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Victorian and Edwardian Fashion : A Photographic Survey

Author: Alison Gernsheim

Description: New York, New York: Dover Publications, 1981. Softcover.

Originally published as Fashion and Reality by Faber & Faber, London, 1963 this work's original title reflects the subtext that runs throughout the book: that there is a significant difference between the costume depicted in fashion plates and the daguerreotypes, cartes and cabinets that recorded fashion reality. As the author states

The historian of fashion relying solely on the fantasies of fashion-plates and painted portraits stresses the exception rather than the general trend as shown in the majority of photographs.

She cites Mrs. Moore's 1949 The Women in Fashion refutation of the belief by many writers that Victorian women achieved an 18-inch or 17-inch waist as an example of the distance between fashion rhetoric and reality. An excellent overview of nineteenth-century fashion from a woman who spent many years researching both fashions magazines and photographs of the era. We are greatly indebted to her efforts to make sense of conflicting fashion claims. Reprinted in softcover by Dover books, it retains the excellent selection of period photographs. It's one of the best bargains around in history of photography books and is many times overlooked because of its fashion angle. For living history participants looking for authenticity in their costumes and photo-historians interpreting old photographs alike this book is an invaluable addition to any personal library. Many wonderful pictures from the author's collection are reproduced. You'll want to compare this to with Doris Langley Moore's Fashion Through Fashion Plates, 1771-1970.

Paperback and Hardcover versions are available. The hardcover edition is by Peter Smith Publishers, 1982.

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