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Fashioning the Bourgeoisie: A History of Clothing in the Nineteenth Century

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When department stores like Le Bon March� first opened their doors in mid-nineteenth-century Paris, shoppers were offered more than racks of ready-made frock coats and crinolines. They were given the chance to acquire a lifestyle as well--that of the bourgeoisie. Wearing proper clothing encouraged proper behavior, went the prevailing belief. Available now for the first time When department stores like Le Bon March� first opened their doors in mid-nineteenth-century Paris, shoppers were offered more than racks of ready-made frock coats and crinolines. They were given the chance to acquire a lifestyle as well--that of the bourgeoisie. Wearing proper clothing encouraged proper behavior, went the prevailing belief. Available now for the first time in English, Fashioning the Bourgeoisie was one of the first extensive studies to explain a culture's sociology through the seemingly simple issue of the choice of clothing. Philippe Perrot shows, through a delightful tour of the rise of the ready-made fashion industry in France, how clothing can not only reflect but also inculcate beliefs, values, and aspirations. By the middle of the century, men were prompted to disdain the decadent and gaudy colors of the pre-Revolutionary period and wear unrelievedly black frock coats suitable to the manly and serious world of commerce. Their wives and daughters, on the other hand, adorned themselves in bright colors and often uncomfortable and impractical laces and petticoats, to signal the status of their family. The consumer pastime of shopping was born, as women spent their spare hours keeping up their middle-class appearance, or creating one by judicious purchases. As Paris became the fashion capital and bourgeois modes of dress and their inherent attitudes became the ruling lifestyle of Western Europe and America, clothing and its "civilizing" tendencies were imported to non-Western colonies as well. In the face of what Perrot calls this "leveling process," the upper classes tried to maintain their stature and right to elegance by supporting what became the high fashion industry. Richly detailed, entertaining, and provocative, Fashioning the Bourgeoisie reveals to us the sources of many of our contemporary rules of fashion and etiquette.


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When department stores like Le Bon March� first opened their doors in mid-nineteenth-century Paris, shoppers were offered more than racks of ready-made frock coats and crinolines. They were given the chance to acquire a lifestyle as well--that of the bourgeoisie. Wearing proper clothing encouraged proper behavior, went the prevailing belief. Available now for the first time When department stores like Le Bon March� first opened their doors in mid-nineteenth-century Paris, shoppers were offered more than racks of ready-made frock coats and crinolines. They were given the chance to acquire a lifestyle as well--that of the bourgeoisie. Wearing proper clothing encouraged proper behavior, went the prevailing belief. Available now for the first time in English, Fashioning the Bourgeoisie was one of the first extensive studies to explain a culture's sociology through the seemingly simple issue of the choice of clothing. Philippe Perrot shows, through a delightful tour of the rise of the ready-made fashion industry in France, how clothing can not only reflect but also inculcate beliefs, values, and aspirations. By the middle of the century, men were prompted to disdain the decadent and gaudy colors of the pre-Revolutionary period and wear unrelievedly black frock coats suitable to the manly and serious world of commerce. Their wives and daughters, on the other hand, adorned themselves in bright colors and often uncomfortable and impractical laces and petticoats, to signal the status of their family. The consumer pastime of shopping was born, as women spent their spare hours keeping up their middle-class appearance, or creating one by judicious purchases. As Paris became the fashion capital and bourgeois modes of dress and their inherent attitudes became the ruling lifestyle of Western Europe and America, clothing and its "civilizing" tendencies were imported to non-Western colonies as well. In the face of what Perrot calls this "leveling process," the upper classes tried to maintain their stature and right to elegance by supporting what became the high fashion industry. Richly detailed, entertaining, and provocative, Fashioning the Bourgeoisie reveals to us the sources of many of our contemporary rules of fashion and etiquette.

30 review for Fashioning the Bourgeoisie: A History of Clothing in the Nineteenth Century

  1. 4 out of 5

    Susan Tan

    One of the best history of fashion I've ever read about the 19th century that intertwines social norms, class, & politics. One of the best history of fashion I've ever read about the 19th century that intertwines social norms, class, & politics.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Researching 19th century French fashions - then this book is for you. Interesting, Informative.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Paula Grinvalde

    will re-read when i polish my old french

  4. 4 out of 5

    Brittany

    Excellent history of the Parisian bourgeoisie through the middle to end of the 19th century

  5. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    A short, interesting, and informative read. The book describes the fashion scene that dominated Paris life through the 19th century, dissecting different aspects of men's and women's wardrobes (suits, hats, corsets, crinolines, etc.) I would have appreciated if the author had included more technical information, and perhaps a better breakdown of how exactly fashions changed throughout the century, particularly for women, because their fashions seem to have swung violently from one extreme to the A short, interesting, and informative read. The book describes the fashion scene that dominated Paris life through the 19th century, dissecting different aspects of men's and women's wardrobes (suits, hats, corsets, crinolines, etc.) I would have appreciated if the author had included more technical information, and perhaps a better breakdown of how exactly fashions changed throughout the century, particularly for women, because their fashions seem to have swung violently from one extreme to the other through the decades. The author offers no explanations for why this occurred, which is fair - it's a difficult question to answer. The book is very academic-y and has very flowery language, which sometimes proved distracting from the information being presented. However, this might just be a personal qualm made by an uneducated philistine like myself who isn't used to reading academic language. Overall, it made me realize just how complicated bourgeois fashion became in an attempt to distinguish itself from the ever-improving commoner's wardrobe.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Marit

    Perrot's book was often tedious and long-winded, both in terms of exposition of ideas and writing style. I did feel that I learned things about the way that fashion filtered down in the 1800's, the feel of the clothing marketplaces in Paris (where much of his writing centered), and the way that the aristocracy tried to maintain social classes at a time when fashion was blurring the lines. I was hoping for a little more insight into specific types of fashions but instead it really is more of a di Perrot's book was often tedious and long-winded, both in terms of exposition of ideas and writing style. I did feel that I learned things about the way that fashion filtered down in the 1800's, the feel of the clothing marketplaces in Paris (where much of his writing centered), and the way that the aristocracy tried to maintain social classes at a time when fashion was blurring the lines. I was hoping for a little more insight into specific types of fashions but instead it really is more of a discourse on clothing, not styles.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Susan Bin

    quick read; good eats

  8. 5 out of 5

    Corinne

  9. 4 out of 5

    Hiroyuki Shibata

  10. 5 out of 5

    EvaGM

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lapinova

  12. 5 out of 5

    Maria Colas

  13. 5 out of 5

    Anne

  14. 4 out of 5

    Zuri Bennett-paden

  15. 4 out of 5

    Fred

  16. 5 out of 5

    Perry Mullinax

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lynda

  19. 4 out of 5

    Carson Poplin

  20. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Goff

  21. 5 out of 5

    Alysa H.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alice

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kristine

  25. 5 out of 5

    adelina

  26. 5 out of 5

    Heather Belnap Jensen

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mary Ann

  29. 4 out of 5

    Anastazja Oppenheim

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jecka Marie

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