The psychology of dress - PDF by Frank Alvah Parsons

The psychology of dress

The psychology of dress

Contains many Illustrations

There are two main reasons for writing the preface to a book. The one, that traditional practice may be duly observed, the other, that the writer may make a suitable apology for what he has done or perchance fittingly acknowledge the assistance given him by his friends. 

The second is the reason for this preface. It would be presumptuous to present this book as a History of Costume. It attempts no such colossal task. It is equally absurd to claim for it a thorough, technical, psychological treatment of anyone period or group of periods. It makes no such boast. 

There has been in the last decade a remarkable awakening to the relations which exist between man and his works, between the mind and its expression in material objects, and also to how absorbing or dominating ideas and interests colour, if not determine, the entire externalized thought of a man in religious, political and social life. It is this that makes history live, that makes psychology a vital thing and Art a quality essential to full human expression and inseparable from human life. 

This is the thought the author has in mind in the selection, analysis, and treatment of such European periods as have most directly influenced our development and that illustrate perhaps, most clearly, the principles which are not only concerned in the development of style in clothes but in that of the allied arts as well.

It does seem that "there is nothing new under the sun" and "there is nothing either good or bad but think- ing makes it so." Men are fundamentally the same in every land and every clime, having the same appetites and longings, with the same basic motives and vanities, differently proportioned, differently stimulated, therefore somewhat differently expressed. 

The intimate connection between mind and material expression is daily becoming more clearly understood and their natural relationships grow the more absorbing as we study from history the various materials and forms through which human conceptions of life and its needs have been expressed. For example, man's primal need for food and shelter have pressed him to conceive not only how this need shall be satisfied, but in what way things necessary to this end shall be made so that they may best answer the demand for which they exist.

 Another need, just as universal, has urged him to fashion things in such a way that the result shall be (as he sees it) a thing of beauty — that is, that the material, form, and colour which he has used shall be so proportioned that the aesthetic sense, as well as the physical appetite, shall be satisfied through the thing created. The House and Clothes have answered the human requirement for shelter and, whether we will or not, they also express the individual and the national ideal of beauty in colour and in form, satisfying in this way the demands of the aesthetic instinct. 

The degree of satisfaction these things give the cultivated aesthetic sense is the measure of their artistic value, it is not their period, their oddity, or their cost that determines it. 

These two aspects of function and beauty, in so far as art is concerned, must be observed if a production is to be a success in any field of man's creative genius, but in the matter of clothes or costumes (and we shall use these terms synonymously in this work) there are other considerations which affect his work more pronouncedly than in other fields, and must therefore be given a place in the examination of each period, and of those cases where a mode endured too short a time for the crystallization of a definite style. 

The first of these mighty influences we will call fashion. While this has doubtless greatly influenced architecture, furniture, manner of painting and of decoration, clothes have undoubtedly felt its power more quickly, more keenly and sometimes more fatally to the criteria of good sense and taste.


I. Mediaeval Europe. 3
II. The Renaissance in Italy (1400 to 1600) ... 47
III. The Renaissance in France and England. The Sixteenth Century 95
IV The Seventeenth Century in France, Italy, and England 149
V. The Eighteenth Century in France and Italy. 193
VI. The Eighteenth Century in England and America 238
VII. Characteristic Nineteenth Century Styles . . 284
VIII. Early Twentieth Century Characteristics . . 318
Index 353

the book details :
  • Author: Frank Alvah Parsons
  • Publication date:1920
  • Company: Garden City, New York, Doubleday, Page & company

  • Download 31.6 MB

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