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The Art of Dress
Costume in Detail
A Dictionary of Costume
From Queen to Empress
Patterns of Fashion 1
Patterns of Fashion 2
The Way We Wore

The Way We Wore: Styles of the 1930s and '40s
By Marsha Hunt

I was already somewhat familiar with Marsha Hunt as a movie actress (if you've ever seen the 1940 version of Pride and Prejudice, she plays Mary Bennett), but was surprised to discover she had written a book on fashion. The book spans what can be called the Golden Age of Hollywood: the 1930s and 1940s. Fashions were truly glamorous, and from her account in the book, it must have been a lot of fun to be able to be a screen actress then.

Filled with a dizzying amount of black and white photos, mostly of the author modeling clothes as a young actress, it is an interesting look back at the styles of that time. What is even more interesting are the descriptions she gives a long with the photos: sometimes detailing things of interest about the gown or an anecdote. From the slinky styles of the '30s to the post-war look of the 1940s, it's all here.

Even once you get past the photos in the book, there are treasures to be gleaned from the text. I usually shy away from reading text in most costume pictorials as it's usually either just 'fluff' or a social commentary, but being an avid fan of the 1940s, I couldn't resist reading this one. She gives a lot of information about wearing the clothes pictured, and if you're a fan of fur coats like I am, your jaw will drop when you see and read about her fur coat collection! She also has a section on volunteering at canteens and even going on tour during WWII, as well as the 'blacklisting' that went on in Hollywood in the late forties.

Sadly, this book is out of print, but you may be lucky enough to get it from a library (and it is well worth tracking down). A fun read and trip back to a time past.


4 stars out of 5

Artwork is October (1877) by James Tissot, courtesy of CGFA.

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2003 Across the Ages