Young fashion fans will have fun with new book

There’s never been a seat for you on the bandwagon.

When everybody was wearing skinny jeans, you put on your crinoline. When they were all into Daisy Dukes, you loved daisy print. You don’t own leggings, jeggings or fat boots, up-to-the-minute skirts or scarves. No, you’ve got a style all your own, which is why you need “The Fashion Book.”

At least four times a year (sometimes more), designers come out with new haute couture and magazines howl about must-haves. We’re supposed to change the content of our closet every few months, then – but why?

To understand, you need to know the history of fashion.

You might think that women in long-ago times could just wear the same old robe every day, right? No, all-the-rage Ancients took fashion seriously. Minoan women some 5,000 years ago used corsets. Greek girls demanded that their peplos were personalized and Roman women exercised in bikinis.

Medieval men had it much better than their female counterparts: Men donned lightweight tights, while women were stuck wearing four mandatory layers of clothing. If they looked pregnant, that was even better: the Black Plague killed a lot of people, and babies were “prized.”

During the Renaissance, fashion started to stink. Seriously stink, because hygiene wasn’t important to our 15th and 16th century ancestors. Furs were de rigueur because they were thought to re-route fleas and lice. Hair was rarely washed, baths were infrequent. Plus, with then-trendy skirts wider than most doorways, trying to reach the potty wasn’t pretty.

You might think them crazy, but women in the late 1700s wore clothing that made their butts look big, on purpose. Fashionistas on and off through the 1800s did that, too, and they sometimes changed clothes several times a day. But while butts were big then, shoes sported dozens of teensy buttons to fasten, which took time and probably made lots of women late. In the early 1800s, by the way, men wore corsets, too.

By the early 1900s, women were happy to turn to Hollywood for a new look. Sumptuous gowns caused undies to go smaller, push-up bras were invented, heels went higher, and glamour was golden. Practicality ruled the 1930s; Rosie the Riveter needed work clothes in the ’40s; and in the 1950s, teenagers like you stepped into the fashion scene…

As a basic history of what we wore, “The Fashion Book” is exactly perfect.

There’s just enough information in this book to get future clothing designers started on ideas, with bios on famous fashionistas and interviews with experts and students in various roles in the industry. Readers learn intriguing bits and pieces about ye olde clothing via illustrations and lighthearted sidebars that are easy to read, then we’re taken even further with ideas for using old-fashioned fashions in new ways that won’t bust a girl’s budget.

There’s no reason in the world that a grown-up can’t enjoy this book, but it’s really meant for young adults. If that’s you and you’re looking for new ways of stylin’, “The Fashion Book” will suit you well.

View publishes Terri Schlichenmeyer’s reviews of books for children and teens weekly.

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