Clothing and Fashion: American Fashion from Head to Toe. Edited by José Blanco F. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2016. 4 vols. Acid free $415.00 (ISBN: 978-1-61069-309-7). E-book available (978-1-61069-310-3), call for pricing.

Clothing and Fashion: American Fashion from Head to Toe is a comprehensive, four-volume, encyclopedic reference guide with more than eight hundred entries that cover American fashions and style from the year 1600 to present day. Organized chronologically as a whole, each volume covers specific eras and provides a historical overview of the eras included.

This work is intended as a resource for both students and scholars interested in the history of clothing in America. The entries are thoughtful and summarize the significance and uses of the garments as well as the textiles used in their production. The treatment is expansive enough that researchers from a multitude of disciplines will find this resource valuable, but it contains enough introductory information to be accessible for beginners in the field. An entry that exemplifies this is “African American Clothing, 1715–1785,” because it handles the topic of slavery objectively and manages to focus the entry on how clothing impacted the lives of slaves and served as another means of control over them. This is accomplished using newspaper notices for runaway slaves from this time period, which provide detailed descriptions of both the slave’s person and clothing. Providing these primaries resources as evidence enriches the entries and provides a much needed connection to the lives of the individuals who wore the garments in question.

Although American fashion eras have been covered many times in reference resources, this edition sets itself apart with the way it connects clothing to the daily lives of Americans, major historical events, and historical figures. From the impact of the American Revolution on textiles to David Bowie’s influence on fashion and culture, the authors make sure to hit the major influences and show their impact. If there is one area that this resource suffers, it is in the shortage of illustrations. This set has four volumes and almost two thousand pages, but it only has a handful of illustrations in each volume. Many people know what a bustle looks like, but an entry on something as obscure as the Steinkirk neck cloth would have benefitted from an accompanying image or illustration. This resource has more strengths than weaknesses, and selection should be based on your patrons and budgetary constraints.

Overall, this work is an easy-to-use reference resource that provides an interesting historical overview with an objective tone. Given the price of the item, I would recommend this work only for university and research libraries supporting relevant majors.—Marissa Ellermann, Head of Circulation Services Librarian, Morris Library, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Carbondale, Illinois


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