Worn Out

Historian Linda Przybyszewski’s interest in mid-century women’s fashion was piqued after she happened upon a home-economics text-book from the 1950s — and it further intensified when she discovered a pamphlet called “How to Buy Shoes” that was put out around the same time by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

What followed was a curiosity-driven investigation into why the USDA had produced something of that nature. Her study led to the discovery of the now-defunct Bureau of Home Economics, which included a division specifically dedicated to textiles and clothing. The women there — whom Przybyszewski refers to as “dress doctors” — produced numerous publications instructing women on how to sew and dress.

“They had created a very systematic way of teaching how you apply art principles to dress, how you can choose clothing for different occasions, and how you can do it all on a small budget,” the author says.

Her findings make up The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish, which details the history of these fashion rules. Przybyszewski will read from and sign her book tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Tattered Cover, 2526 East Colfax Avenue. Go to tattered-cover.com for more information.
Tue., May 27, 7:30 p.m., 2014

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Robin Edwards
Contact: Robin Edwards