7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Academic but highly readable social history,
This review is from: Glamour : Women, History, Feminism (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)When social historian Carol Dyhouse began work on this book, her academic colleagues joked that she was giving up her bluestockings for fishnets. In a way you can't blame them; the word "glamour" has in recent years become synonymous with the seedier side of modelling. However, this isn't a history of page three girls or a feminist study of women's exploitation in the marketplace. It's a history of the various ways in which women themselves have used fashion, costume, cosmetics and perfume as tools to present an image of themselves which can empower or ensnare.
Beginning at the dawn of the 20th century, she shows how fairytale exotica culled from trashy novels liberated women of all classes from the prison of modesty and breeding and helped them re-imagine themselves - not just to attract men, but to release their own repressed sense of selfhood. Proceeding chronologically, she shows how fashion mirrored the developing aspirations of women - from wartime through the materialism of the 50s and the realignments and revolutions of the 60s and 70s. She's a little less sure of herself when dealing with the "glamazons" of 80s power-dressing and the grunge waifs of the 90s, but her mini-biography of Diana, Princess of Wales in terms of her developing personal style is an apt illustration of how appearances can signal changing power ratios within a relationship, a family or even a state.
All in all this is a fascinating book, thought-provoking, well-illustrated and full of unexpected nuggets of fact and insight.