Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Lost Art of Dress

 Imagine yourself going to the mailbox on any ordinary day, and pulling out a package you had not ordered containing a lovely hardbound book. Slipped inside the front cover was a nice letter addressed to you from the publisher sharing an overview of the book and announcing that it was an "advance" copy. This book was not even for sale yet!

This is what happened to me last week. The book, titled "The Lost Art of Dress" by Linda Przybyszewski, provided no clues. Who did I know that would send me this book? I didn't have the time, but for now- let's forget the reading time factor- would this book be of interest?

Thumbing through the pages I found the photo of Mary Brooks Picken, the woman who founded Women's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences. I know this woman. She began teaching in the early half of the twentieth century and wrote many books on sewing, and was considered an expert on dress. Many of her books are available to read or download here: https://archive.org

 This, of course, really piqued my interest so I decided to look up the author on the internet. I found out that she goes by the name Professor Pski, and is an Historian of Law, Culture and Dress. Teaching at the University of Notre Dame, she is most well known for her class titled "A Nation of Slobs." She also loves vintage fashions and is a dressmaker herself. Gotta love a woman like that!

Now- I understand the point this book is trying to get across, and I decide to send her a note to introduce myself and thank her for the gift that mysteriously landed in my mailbox. She writes back "I know exactly what you do...." ...which makes me feel kind of silly and spooked all at the same time. She mentions that she is about to post a blog about one of my patterns.  The focus is on Fifth Avenue and what the "Dress Doctors"- those considered expert in dress- would say about it:


This book is exactly my kind of reading, and this lovely gift provides great incentive to find some time for it this summer. If this is your kind of book too, you can now get it everywhere online such as ebay or Amazon of course, and also at Target, or please order it from your local bookstore. If you can get through it before I do, I'd love to know what you think!


  1. Wonderful post. I found some fantastic dressmaking and drafting books from the 1930s that were out of copyright on line.

  2. I've seen her on TV and totally agree with her position. I believe she requires her students to "dress" for class. She is my idea f awesome and I can't wait to get this book. Amazon, here I come!

  3. Yes, I have seen her on television spots on CBS' Sunday Morning program and have relished in her point of view on dressing and the clothing she makes to illustrate her opinion. I see perfectly why she knows who you are Ms Nash, and your meeting each other is far from coincidence. I will be glad when the book is published and will put it on my wishlist in anticipation of that date.

  4. How lovely.
    Spring is the time of new beginnings. You will have so much to talk about. I am going to keep an eye open for this book.

  5. I'm on the hold line at Seattle Public Library for this (they let us line up early for this one) and am very excited to see a little preview here! Thanks, it's looking promising!

  6. I really enjoyed this book -- so much to learn in it, plus it's very entertaining and well written. I also found the notes and bibliography to be full of inspiration for further reading!


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