Tag Archives: fashion

Etiquette & Espionage

The year is 1851 and women are expected to be perfect hostesses, focus on fashion, complete with full petticoats, and always behave as a proper lady. Fourteen year old Sophronia is much more interested in climbing trees and figuring out how machines work than behaving as she is supposed to. It has gotten to the point that her mother wants to send her away to finishing school.

etiquetteBut this is not your average finishing school and not your average Victorian setting. This is Etiquette and Espionage, by Gail Carriger, where the school not only teaches them how to be ladies, but how to be a spy. It is also 1851 as envisioned by Steampunk – a genre of science fiction that has a historical setting and typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology. So in addition to horse drawn carriages, there are also dirigibles, mechanical servants, and even mechanimals.

I had never heard of this book, but it is on the 2018-19 Middle Grade Battle of the Books list. If I had time, I would probably go on to read book 2 and 3 of the series, as I get a kick out of Steampunk, but at the moment, I lack that time. Continue reading →

Fancy Party Gowns

FPG coverThe Story of Ann Cole Lowe is not one that I probably would have ever heard of if not for the new biography, Fancy Party Gowns, by Deborah Blumenthal. Her story, however, is important in the world of fashion, women, and African-American history.

Ann Cole Lowe learned how to sew from her mother and grandmother who were both dressmakers in Alabama. When Ann was 16, her mother had been working on a dress for the governor’s wife when she died. “Ann thought about what she could do, not what she couldn’t change.” So Ann finished the dress.

Fancy Party 1

Ann continued to work hard and in 1917 was sent to a design school in New York, but she had to study alone, in a separate room, because of the color of her skin. This image alone in the book is exceptionally powerful to help get the notion across to children just how unfair laws and practices were when it came to segregation. This didn’t stop Ann, if anything, it might have made her stronger. Continue reading →