Dress and Morality by Aileen Ribeiro
Moralists have raged throughout history against various fashions for being too short, too long, too tight, too loose or too costly. Highlighting the times when choice of dress was a moral minefield, this enlightening and entertaining book looks at fashion extremes over the centuries, from the sexual display of the codpiece through to corsets, crinolines and decolletage. Providing a sharp and humorous look at the outright risque as well as the grotesquely exaggerated and even the repulsive, Ribeiro shows how dress has functioned variously as a vehicle of righteousness or turpitude and as an expression of sexuality, class or social status. In 747 St Boniface deemed wide stripes and scarlet borders to incite lust and ruination of the soul. Well over a millennium later immodest dress ranked high in Jesuit Father Bernard Vaughan's book on the sins of society. Medical practitioners once labelled the v-necked top, now a standard style, 'the pneumonia neckline'. Was it the force of society or sheer vanity of fashion that drove women to wear sleeves the size of balloons? Are sexual boundaries between dress worn by men and women diminishing? What morals still bind us to our Judeo-Christian heritage and lead us to express ourselves through appearances?Lavishly illustrated and packed with countless thought-provoking quotes, Dress and Morality is an in-depth exploration of the comical vanities and social etiquettes associated with dress in the past. At last here is the much-anticipated updated edition of this classic book.