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Dressed for War: Uniform, Civilian Clothing & Trappings, 1914 to 1918

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Men in khaki and grey squatting in the trenches, women at work, gender bending in goggles, with overalls on over their trousers. What people wear matters. Well illustrated, this book tells the stories of what people on both sides wore on the front line and on the home front through the seismic years of World War I. Nina Edwards reveals fresh aspects of the war through the Men in khaki and grey squatting in the trenches, women at work, gender bending in goggles, with overalls on over their trousers. What people wear matters. Well illustrated, this book tells the stories of what people on both sides wore on the front line and on the home front through the seismic years of World War I. Nina Edwards reveals fresh aspects of the war through the prism of the smallest details of personal dress, of clothes, hair and accessories, both in uniform and civilian wear. She explores how, during a period of extraordinary upheaval and rapid change, wearing a certain perfume, say, or the just-so adjustment to the tilt of a hat offer insights into the individual experience of men, women and children during the course of World War I.


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Men in khaki and grey squatting in the trenches, women at work, gender bending in goggles, with overalls on over their trousers. What people wear matters. Well illustrated, this book tells the stories of what people on both sides wore on the front line and on the home front through the seismic years of World War I. Nina Edwards reveals fresh aspects of the war through the Men in khaki and grey squatting in the trenches, women at work, gender bending in goggles, with overalls on over their trousers. What people wear matters. Well illustrated, this book tells the stories of what people on both sides wore on the front line and on the home front through the seismic years of World War I. Nina Edwards reveals fresh aspects of the war through the prism of the smallest details of personal dress, of clothes, hair and accessories, both in uniform and civilian wear. She explores how, during a period of extraordinary upheaval and rapid change, wearing a certain perfume, say, or the just-so adjustment to the tilt of a hat offer insights into the individual experience of men, women and children during the course of World War I.

35 review for Dressed for War: Uniform, Civilian Clothing & Trappings, 1914 to 1918

  1. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Sankey

    This is a sensory history of WWI clothing, from the Archuduke's jacket sewn on so tightly his entourage found it impossible to rip it open to stop the bleeding, the comfort found in a knit scarf from home, the smell of wet and sweaty wool, governments consulting fashion designers to speed up commercial production of uniforms, the fell of cold through a cardboard shoe sole, the reassuring sound of starched nurses' uniforms, to the real anger of men on leave seeing women not just in uniform themse This is a sensory history of WWI clothing, from the Archuduke's jacket sewn on so tightly his entourage found it impossible to rip it open to stop the bleeding, the comfort found in a knit scarf from home, the smell of wet and sweaty wool, governments consulting fashion designers to speed up commercial production of uniforms, the fell of cold through a cardboard shoe sole, the reassuring sound of starched nurses' uniforms, to the real anger of men on leave seeing women not just in uniform themselves, but unconcerned that they were no longer a pleasing sight. Edwards has found primary sources and places them in the context of early 20th century social and gender norms, as well as the technology possible to produce ersatz replacements for scarce goods and the economy of distribution and ownership.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Reet Champion

    Fashion. A thing that fascinates no matter the time period. Since early on clothing has mattered a great deal, never mind if it was/is ridiculous or a danger to one's health one must have those feathered hats that way ten pounds, or that Tudor dress that must be the equivalent of wearing the bay windows heavy drapes! But I ramble... Now comes a book that will enthrall those with an interest in the fashions of World War I. From skirts to khakis and beyond Nina Edwards sheds light on what our ance Fashion. A thing that fascinates no matter the time period. Since early on clothing has mattered a great deal, never mind if it was/is ridiculous or a danger to one's health one must have those feathered hats that way ten pounds, or that Tudor dress that must be the equivalent of wearing the bay windows heavy drapes! But I ramble... Now comes a book that will enthrall those with an interest in the fashions of World War I. From skirts to khakis and beyond Nina Edwards sheds light on what our ancestors wore and how it reflected on them. From the civilian to the soldier Edwards covers quite a bit in this well-illustrated book. Although relatively short Dressed for War is both informative and interesting as it moves a rather fast pace. Worth a read and just in time for Remembrance Day. DISCLAIMER: In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising” we would like to note that we received an electronic copy of “Dressed for War”  provided by the publishers, I.B.Tauris, through Netgalley.com in exchange for our honest review. reetchampionbookreviews.wordpress.com

  3. 5 out of 5

    Online Eccentric Librarian

    More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog http://surrealtalvi.wordpress.com/ Dressed For War is a thoroughly researched discussion on what clothes meant in the World War I period. The topics range from supply to cigarettes, body consciousness, shortages, manufacturing, underwear, dentistry, and more. There are a 42 small black and white photographs/illustrations/cartoons to underline the points. It should be noted that this is definitely a wordy academic book on society and not a coffee table More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog http://surrealtalvi.wordpress.com/ Dressed For War is a thoroughly researched discussion on what clothes meant in the World War I period. The topics range from supply to cigarettes, body consciousness, shortages, manufacturing, underwear, dentistry, and more. There are a 42 small black and white photographs/illustrations/cartoons to underline the points. It should be noted that this is definitely a wordy academic book on society and not a coffee table book on fashion. The book breaks down as follows: Introduction; Prelude;, Uniform chivalry, and doing one's bit; Men in civvies, women in uniform; The fabric and furbelows; attitudes to the body; Entertaining costume; Manufacture and the home; Death, marriage, and identity; O brave new world; Epilogue/Notes/glossary/Bibliography/Index. A more accurate title would be along the lines of how clothes affected and were influenced by World War I era society. The book is multinational and discusses the different countries and how clothing was affected by the war years. Full backgrounds are given - e.g., to understand the World War 1 British uniform, you need to go back to the uniforms that preceded it and see how they organically grew from there. Then the author discussed fabric dyes in the uniforms, why the colors were chosen, how the dyes were obtained (blockade running, u-boat smuggling), and even a chapter on why being clean had an impact on the way uniforms were designed. For women, social mores, attitudes as the war progressed, availability of materials, appearing patriotic, greeting returning soldiers and wanting to look feminine, and much more are covered in detail. The book gives equal discussions to men and women, with children discussed a bit at the end. What you won't find in this book is discussion of fashion or fashion styles. This is a book about clothing for the average person - not robes a la mode, Vogue, designers, or the different types of dresses or styles. Nursing, missing limb attachments, dentistry, knitting, children at home and war, etc. are the discussions. As an example, in the wedding dress section, there is only one image, and that's of a non-traditional toga type dress to give an example of romantic type dress preferences. Although the information is well researched, the presentation does leave a lot to be desired. Images are small, typically 1/4 or 1/2 page, the type face is boring and laid out in a standard and unfriendly manner. It can look and read a lot like a home typed dissertation rather than something that has at least gone through any kind of design process. But for those wanting to put into perspective 1914-1918 life across the world, this is a very well researched resource. Reviewed from an ARC.

  4. 4 out of 5

    A.J.

    I liked the broad scope of this book: the inclusion of details about clothing from both sides of the First World War. Some interesting facts and figures. The mental picture of rats licking Brilliantine from the hair of soldiers in the trenches is going to stay with me, as are the shelves provided at Wimbledon for the blood-soaked corsets of female competitors.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer (JC-S)

    ‘Dress, from uniform to everyday civilian accommodations, to high fashion, has meaning for our interpretation of the First World War.’ Men wearing grey and khaki in the trenches, women working in factories wearing overalls and trousers. People making do with existing clothing, adapting it to new requirements, being thrifty rather than fashionable. In this well-illustrated book, Ms Edwards writes about what people on both sides of World War I wore both on the home front and the front line. ‘What pe ‘Dress, from uniform to everyday civilian accommodations, to high fashion, has meaning for our interpretation of the First World War.’ Men wearing grey and khaki in the trenches, women working in factories wearing overalls and trousers. People making do with existing clothing, adapting it to new requirements, being thrifty rather than fashionable. In this well-illustrated book, Ms Edwards writes about what people on both sides of World War I wore both on the home front and the front line. ‘What people wear matters. This book examines what was worn for its significance, calling on what is revealed in the smallest details of personal dress ...’ Clothes, hair and accessories are covered in both uniform and civilian wear: how people achieved either individuality or uniformity depending on opportunity and taste. Practicality was important, as was thrift. Women wore trousers, hemlines lifted and men’s suits were made using less material. And in keeping with the need for increased durability and practicality, fabrics evolved as well. ‘Thrift had become a patriotic duty.’ But this book is not just about what people wore during the war years, it touches on the changes to society which had an impact on why people made the choices they did. More women were working outside the home, fewer people were available for domestic employment. And while I knew about white feathers as a symbol of cowardice (in Australia as well as in Britain), I never knew that this was the reason why: ‘The white feather was a long-established symbol of cowardice in Britain, stemming from the adage that a fighting bird with white feathers in its tail was of inferior stock, and thus unfit to fight.’ I found this book interesting reading on a number of fronts, particularly: the social and practical considerations of clothing during World War I; the evolution of women’s involvement in work outside the home; and the ways in which people adapted both individuality and uniformity. The photographs and drawings augment the text well. ‘This has been a book about appearance. What appearance can reveal about even such a time as the First World War.’ My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher I. B. Tauris for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book. Jennifer Cameron-Smith

  6. 5 out of 5

    Belinda

    This was an ARC provided by I.B.Tauris via Netgalley. A really interesting and fun way of understanding the WWI era is to look at what clothes the people were wearing. Think about it! What are you wearing today? Does it reflect something about you or the era you live in? What are things we think about when we think about time periods? Clothes! Think of Medieval times, all gowns and pantaloons and puffed sleeves. Then think of the '80's. Or don't, it's still a little bit painful. There were loads o This was an ARC provided by I.B.Tauris via Netgalley. A really interesting and fun way of understanding the WWI era is to look at what clothes the people were wearing. Think about it! What are you wearing today? Does it reflect something about you or the era you live in? What are things we think about when we think about time periods? Clothes! Think of Medieval times, all gowns and pantaloons and puffed sleeves. Then think of the '80's. Or don't, it's still a little bit painful. There were loads of things that went into making clothing change through the war. Mostly practical and societal, but these factors nevertheless the times changed the way people dressed. Uniforms became a common sight, women started wearing *gasp!* TROUSERS and the hemlines got particularly racy. Dressed For War goes through how Army uniforms evolved, what civilians were wearing, why fashion changed during this period and includes some really great facts about clothing in WWI. It also goes over the changes in fabric, which was both interesting and confusing to me, because I have absolutely no idea when it comes to such things! Did you know that Hitler's uniform as Fuhrer was directly inspired by how much he liked his WWI army uniform? I didn't, but I do now! The book includes lots of pictures, so you're not desperately trying to imagine what the various costumes look like. There are quite a lot and they author jumps from nationality to nationality quite quickly, so the pictures are definitely helpful. It meanders between discussing the clothing and other aspects of life, which break up the text a bit and make it more interesting for a casual reader, and some of these things are illustrated as well. If you've read war literature before, you might see some familiar titles in here, which was great. It's nice to see a historical writer who sees the educational value in fiction! If you're into historical fashion and want to understand why it morphs through conflct, I'd definitely give this one a shot. It's not a dense history text, so don't be afraid to pick it up!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Dressed for War is a non-fiction reference book that tells readers about the fashions of World War I, from the uniforms worn by soldiers fighting at the front to the changes in fashion at the home front, such as the races in women's style of dress, such as the bra replacing the corset. Author Nina Edwards also provides commentary, analysing this changes and what they tell us about the sociological changes occurring during this time. I would like to start this review by apologising. It took me a l Dressed for War is a non-fiction reference book that tells readers about the fashions of World War I, from the uniforms worn by soldiers fighting at the front to the changes in fashion at the home front, such as the races in women's style of dress, such as the bra replacing the corset. Author Nina Edwards also provides commentary, analysing this changes and what they tell us about the sociological changes occurring during this time. I would like to start this review by apologising. It took me a long to pick up this book and a long time to read this book and I did sincerely try to finish it, but I just can't. I'm at the point where I dread picking it up. It may be because the formatting of the ARC copy I have is a bit strange, but I found it hard to be interested in the narrative Edwards is providing and found it impossible to find the motivation to pick this up. I got to the point where I decided to marathon-read it, just to get it over and done with it. Except then I forced my way to the end of the chapter, looked back at the table of contents and realised I was only half-way through the main text. And I knew I couldn't face reading anymore. I just wasn't that interested in the topic and I thought I would be. I'm interested in the history of World War I, I love reading about fashion and costume design, and I thought these two interests would make Dressed for War perfect for me. But it's not. And instead of struggling through, hating and resenting myself for being so slow a reader and resenting the book more and more, I'm putting it down now. With all that said, I would recommend this to anyone who wishes to write a story set in World War I or for any costume designers working on films/plays set in World War I. Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley for review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Overmoyer

    Nina Edwards’ “Dressed for War” is a fascinating look at the fashion that defined the years of the First World War. Anyone with an equal interest in fashion and history will see this book as enlightening and important. As someone more interested in history than fashion, someone who wants visuals when it comes to art – and fashion is art, I thought the book could have used more photographs or illustrations but it doesn’t take away from the overall importance of the book. (I received a copy of “Dres Nina Edwards’ “Dressed for War” is a fascinating look at the fashion that defined the years of the First World War. Anyone with an equal interest in fashion and history will see this book as enlightening and important. As someone more interested in history than fashion, someone who wants visuals when it comes to art – and fashion is art, I thought the book could have used more photographs or illustrations but it doesn’t take away from the overall importance of the book. (I received a copy of “Dressed for War” through NetGalley in exchange for a review. This review will be posted on NetGalley, Goodreads, and on my blog.)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mandy

    What a fascinating book this is! Nina Edwards maintains that what people wear matters and that much can be learnt from the tilt of a hat, the fabric of a dress, the length of a skirt. What we wear reflects who we are and the age we live in. This book is the story of what people wore during the First World War both at home and on the front line, in the UK and overseas. It’s lavishly illustrated, clearly and succinctly written and a treasure trove of trivia and interesting facts. Nina Edwards shed What a fascinating book this is! Nina Edwards maintains that what people wear matters and that much can be learnt from the tilt of a hat, the fabric of a dress, the length of a skirt. What we wear reflects who we are and the age we live in. This book is the story of what people wore during the First World War both at home and on the front line, in the UK and overseas. It’s lavishly illustrated, clearly and succinctly written and a treasure trove of trivia and interesting facts. Nina Edwards sheds fresh light on clothes and fashion, uniforms and civilian dress, taking in accessories on the way, to give a complete picture of the clothing of that era. A compelling and illuminating read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    Superb. Not a picture book but a thoughtful, well structured study of clothing across the nations of the Great War, and how the war itself changed modes of dressing. There is a great deal of social history in this excellently research book, with great nuggets of information, quotes and poetry. It made me look at the war and its impact on people from a completely different angle. I loaned this from my library and renewed it 4 times. Alas I now have to give it back! I can't afford to buy it just n Superb. Not a picture book but a thoughtful, well structured study of clothing across the nations of the Great War, and how the war itself changed modes of dressing. There is a great deal of social history in this excellently research book, with great nuggets of information, quotes and poetry. It made me look at the war and its impact on people from a completely different angle. I loaned this from my library and renewed it 4 times. Alas I now have to give it back! I can't afford to buy it just now but its on my hit list for when I am less of a pauper, I loved it that much.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Melisende

    Detailed look at clothes and costume during World war 1 - an international look. A look at how people dressed, especially for occasions, and how they used their dress as political or social statements. From the common folk to the military, to the socially affluent, new rules, new dress codes are explored. Well worth the read for those into social history or the history of clothes and costume. First read in October 2014.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rhonda Lomazow

    A fascinating look at life during ww1 told through the clothing that was worn.A look at the men in kahki in the trenches.Women taking on new roles working donning overalls over their pants.How specific items of clothes a certain type of perfume was the real human side of WwI .Highly recommend.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Gio

  14. 4 out of 5

    Brittani Ivan

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lesley

  16. 4 out of 5

    Diana Price

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sue

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ceci

  19. 5 out of 5

    Zuri Bennett-paden

  20. 5 out of 5

    Wayne McCoy

  21. 5 out of 5

    I.B.Tauris Publishers

  22. 4 out of 5

    Candy

  23. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

  24. 4 out of 5

    jf

  25. 5 out of 5

    Viviane Cordeiro

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sus

  27. 4 out of 5

    Valerie Harless-jividen

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cjaven

  29. 5 out of 5

    Anniking

  30. 4 out of 5

    Georgina Di Francesco

  31. 4 out of 5

    Tonya

  32. 4 out of 5

    Hayley

  33. 4 out of 5

    Eleanor

  34. 5 out of 5

    Molly G

  35. 5 out of 5

    nisie draws

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