A cultural history of fashion in the 20th and 21st centuries by Bonnie English

By Bonnie English

This new version of a bestselling textbook is designed for college students, students, and somebody drawn to twentieth century type background. Accessibly written and good illustrated, the ebook outlines the social and cultural historical past of style thematically, and features a wide variety of world case experiences on key designers, types, hobbies and occasions. the recent variation has been revised and extended: there are new sections on Read more...

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enticing, concise and hugely obtainable, this new version of a bestselling textual content has been revised all through and contains fresh sections reflecting contemporary advancements and two times as many images. Read more...

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Example text

From another American perspective, Ewen (1976) argues that Veblen’s theories relating to the conspicuous consumption habits of the leisure class of the nineteenth century were ‘now propagated as the democratic ideal’ within mass advertising in the 1910s and 1920s. As Ewen subsequently observes, ‘in order to sell the commodity culture, it was necessary to confront people with a vision of that culture from which the class bases of dissatisfaction had been removed’ (1976: 79). Unlike Americans, Europeans were always more reluctant to accept mass consumerism as a utopian ideal—perhaps as a historical result of their more structured social class system (Clair, 1991: 238).

Advertisers appealed to the ‘narcissism’ of a woman’s selfconcept by offering goods that promised higher status and a means of increasing self-esteem, as well as intimating sexual attractiveness and helping her to maintain her security within the family structure. For both men and women, the concept of fear, which created a consequent emotional vulnerability, became the main motivating factor in advertising in the 1920s. The most pressing fears were the fear of losing one’s job, the fear of failure in courtship or marriage, or the fear of what others might think or say.

She points out, however, that ‘this ambience of service rather than commerce gave an illusion of aristocratic life, and in this way old forms of class and personal relationships persisted in the midst of the new’. This illusion that it was the venue itself that afforded an elevated status for the bourgeois customers (one which previously only the upper classes could have enjoyed) held great appeal. As both upper- and middle-class clients frequented the stores, it would seem that—at least superficially—it led to a greater levelling of the social classes.

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