Decades of Fashion: From 1900 to Now

Image of Decades of Fashion
Release Date: 
October 12, 2011
HF Ullman
Reviewed by: 

“an almost encyclopedic history of fashion . . .”

Decades of Fashion: From 1900 to Now recounts fashion from the start of the 20th century till almost present day—11 decades. As such, Harriet Worsley, in this physically small book, provides one-stop shopping, a crash course in the world of fashion and the notable trends and personalities from any of those given decades.

Ms. Worsley provides about 250 words about what transpired fashion wise within each decade and then proceeds to “illustrate” these historical developments with photographs from each particular era. The format cannot be any simpler, but the depth and breadth of information is huge. This is an almost encyclopedic history of fashion, keeping the reader engaged and always eager to proceed to the next decade.

One of the most significant observations about Decades of Fashion is that the first five decades take up almost half of the book, speaking significantly to the fact that these years were fashion’s most defining and formative moments; what came after might be more famous, but the roots of what was to follow were firmly planted in the first 50 years.

Another noteworthy aspect of the book is its decidedly British slant due to the author’s heritage and experience—but that needn’t become an issue as Ms. Worsley certainly provides ample ink to designers from around the world.

The rule of thumb for a book of this nature is to focus on the clothing only. But Ms. Worsley manages to supply the reader with details of every aspect of fashion from shoes to hair to makeup. That being said, we as readers are treated to the endless names of designers we might already know as well as designers who have been all but forgotten. And then there are the designers who we may have never been aware of and yet who played major roles in the development of fashion in the 20th century.

As previously stated, this is a crash course in the study of fashion and therefore earning a place in one’s library of fashion history. Decades of Fashion: From 1900 to Now provides the reader with an almost instant visual as well as a very no nonsense commentary both intelligent and comprehensive, in-depth and informative.