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Reviewed by Lizzie Bramlett – The Vintage Traveler

Dressing Up Vintage
by Tracy Tolkien
(Pavilion Books Ltd ISBN 1-86205-305-7) Buy Now

Mainly a guide for what to collect from the second half of the 20th century, the emphasis is on designer fashion. The book employs a mixture of vintage photographs and modern pictures of vintage clothes. There is a small section on how to go about starting a vintage fashion collection.

This is the kind of book that I could recommend to a beginning collector, but there’s really not much in the book that an experienced student of fashion history would not already know, or at least have access to in other resources.

The book is organized in short one or two page sections, and this tends to fragment the information. It appears to have been designed for people with very short attention spans!

Many of these sections are about designers, and they are little bite-sized articles about what to look for from each designer. Others are about trends of each decade. Still others discuss the accessories, especially handbags and costume jewelry.

There’s lots of good information here, but one has to be willing to look for it. It’s one of the few books that gives some insights to collecting from the 1980s and 90s. Also, there are bits on street fashion that one might not encounter elsewhere.

Still, I don’t fully understand how a book on the design trends of the second half of the 20th century could be written without a mention of Ceil Chapman and Bonnie Cashin, and with only a passing reference to Claire McCardell and Jean Muir. To make it more confusing, the author mentions John Galliano eleven times and Madonna seven times!

If you have this book and haven’t read it, keep it handy for those moments when you have just a few minutes to devote to reading. You can read one of the mini-chapters in a minute or two, and you’re sure to enjoy the photographs. And if you are new to vintage collecting, this book is a good introduction to many of the trends and designers of the past 50 years.

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