Linda Przybyszewski was in Denver at the Tattered Cover bookstore doing a reading and book signing of her book The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish.
Linda is a wonderful speaker, has a doctoral degree from Nortre Dame with an emphasis on law, history, culture and dress. She teaches a class called We Are A Nation of Slobs: The Art, Ethics and Economics of Dress in Modern America, and has met Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ( funny story she told us). It should also be noted that Linda Przybyszewski is an avid and proficient seamstress and sews most of her own clothes.
In her reading she tells us how girls were taught the art of dress starting early, by age five and continuing on through the high school years. She mentions in her book the Goldstein sisters who taught that the design ideals in art could and should be applied to how women dress. The body is the canvas and clothes are the paints. They would use the principles of art and apply them to fashion and dress. Dressing well was something celebrated and encouraged.
Fast forward to the present where skimpy clad or slovenly women and girls are everywhere you look and where showing yourself naked is now considered “empowering” (add Scout Willis to this recent parade of naked women who claim that being objectified is a-okay).
“Has luring men become our only standard for beauty in dress? Living in an age when the only standard of female attractiveness is hotness, and when every detail of life is offered up on Facebook, young women find it normal that the whole world, not just their sweetheart, their gynecologist and their mother, should know the exact shape of their bodies.”
Linda Przybyszewski from an interview with the New York Times
Add to the normalcy of life now that an entire wardrobe can be bought for 200.00 and it can be changed every 3 months or so. Przybyszewski mentions the problem of fast fashion and how an entire generation if not two have now accepted this crazy fashion cycle as the norm. Manufacturers ramp up the fashion cycles faster than ever and clothing has become more and more disposable which brings up a whole host of problems.
I have not finished the book, but what I’ve read I’ve enjoyed immensely. If you love fashion, history, and geek out about sewing you’ll love this book. It really is a fascinating read about some amazing women and should serve as inspiration to bring back beauty, thrift and style in to every day fashion.
Have you read the book? What are your thoughts? Do you believe in dressing well? Do you cringe when you see a grown woman in pajamas out in public? Let’s discuss!
Here’s a short video of Linda on the CBS Sunday Morning Show.