The British have always been concerned about accent, appearance and class, but at no time during the twentieth century was the cliche 'keeping up appearances' more to the point than during the 1920s and 1930s. 'It is easier to recruit for monasteries and convents than to induce ...a British officer to walk through Bond Street in a golfing cap on an afternoon in May' commented George Bernard Shaw in 1903. This fascinating book looks at how the middle classes chose to dress themselves during the period, and shows how those choices were coloured just as much by the advent of mass production, methods of shopping, economic stringency, snobbery, and the influence of America, as by personal aesthetics. Drawing on a range of primary sources, including Mass Observation records, this book vividly records the experiences of dress shopping during the interwar years, and reveals the importance of the dress codes to which both men and women adhered, and the social conventions which they demonstrated. This fascinating, well written and illustrated book explores the social mores which lie behind one of urban man's most popular - and written about - activities, and reveals not only how we dressed, but why.
Catherine Horwood is a social historian with a passion for gardening and garments. She started her career as a features journalist on UK magazines including Good Housekeeping but then returned to higher education to complete an MA in Women's History and a PhD on Interwar Middle Class dress codes at Royal Holloway, University of London where she is an Honorary Research Fellow. She has also been awarded fellowships at the Yale Center for British Art, and the Huntington Library, Art and Botanical Gardens at San Marino, CA.
Her curiousity for why we dress the way we do has lead to prize-winning academic publications together with a wide range of articles in magazines such as History Today on shopping and consumerism in the interwar period and the history of sportswear in particular tennis and golf clothes and swimming outfits. She regularly review books and has contributed to BBC Radio 4 programmes on dress codes, shopping and sporting dress.
A keen gardener for thirty years, Catherine has created two London gardens that have been open through the 'Yellow Book', and was for many years an assistant organiser for the National Gardens Scheme in London. In addition to her publications on horticultural history, she now gardens in the sky on her North London roof garden, and firmly on the ground in Suffolk.