My latest charity shop book find was a hardback version of the History of Underclothes*

The hardback copy…

Now it’s not the original version from 1951, but a 1981 edition with revisions.

I also have this paperback version of it that’s smaller, but I prefer the hardback for the clearness of the illustrations – it may just be the font size and amount of ink used when the book was printed.

(I bought the paperback version in the gift-shop at The Blandford Fashion Museum many years ago during a family summer holiday.)

I always find the material at the back of this book interesting and helpful.

There’s a comprehensive Source of the Illustrations, chapter by chapter.

The Bibliography gives both the primary and secondary sources.

What the materials
are…

I particularly like the Glossary of Materials.

Muslin had different types – something I didn’t appreciate, and couldn’t describe the differences without a little information.

The book covers underclothes from  the Medieval period up to 1940-1950.

There’s even a Appendix of Clothes Rationing for May 1942, giving the number of coupons needed for various items of underclothes, both male and female.

If you disregard C.W Cunnington’s earlier books with his apparent theories on women, fashion and sexuality, those books written with his wife Phillis are a good starting point for historical fashion.

When I began writing, it was their books on English Women’s Clothing in the 18th Century and the 19th century version that were both the first costume reference books I studied.

Don’t ignore those books that Phillis wrote after her husband’s death (1961); they provide interesting and useful information too on the clothes ordinary people wore…

Phillis Cunnington: born 1887 and died 1974.

 

* The History of Underclothes by C. Willett & Phillis Cunnington, with revisions by A. D. and Valerie Mansfield. Faber and Faber, 1981.

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