The British have always been concerned about accent, appearance and class, but at no time during the twentieth century was the cliche 'keeping up appearances' more to the point than during the 1920s and 1930s. 'It is easier to recruit for monasteries and convents than to induce ...a British officer to walk through Bond Street in a golfing cap on an afternoon in May' commented George Bernard Shaw in 1903. This fascinating book looks at how the middle classes chose to dress themselves during the period, and shows how those choices were coloured just as much by the advent of mass production, methods of shopping, economic stringency, snobbery, and the influence of America, as by personal aesthetics. Drawing on a range of primary sources, including Mass Observation records, this book vividly records the experiences of dress shopping during the interwar years, and reveals the importance of the dress codes to which both men and women adhered, and the social conventions which they demonstrated.
This fascinating, well written and illustrated book explores the social mores which lie behind one of urban man's most popular - and written about - activities, and reveals not only how we dressed, but why.
Catherine Horwood is an honorary research fellow at Royal Holloway, University of London/AHRB Centre for the Study of the Domestic Interior and a visiting lecturer at the University of North London. In addition to articles in History Today and the BBC History Magazine, her publications include 'Dressing like a Champion: Women's Tennis Wear in Interwar England', in C. Breward, B. Conekin and C. Cox (eds), The Englishness of English Dress.