Shahidha Bari

Best Dressed

Clothing Art: The Visual Culture of Fashion, 1600–1914

By

Yale University Press 572pp £55 order from our bookshop

A strikingly handsome fellow appears early on in Aileen Ribeiro’s weighty new book, Clothing Art. Quite how handsome you can judge for yourself at the National Gallery, where the Italian artist Giovanni Battista Moroni’s painting Il Tagliapanni (‘The Tailor’) quietly hangs. He is neatly bearded in the rakish Renaissance way, dressed in a patterned doublet of pinkish cream, a high-necked ruff and puffed (or bombasted) hose the colour of rust. He stands at a worktable, a pair of tailor’s shears grasped in one hand, a mass of dark fabric gathered in the other. Moroni positions his head bent to his task but with his face tilted to meet our gaze evenly. Tailoring, Ribeiro observes, was ‘serious work’ in the 1570s because cloth could be costly. When Moroni’s tailor soberly stares out at us, he means business.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Something of an 'eccentric billionaire’s hobby': reviews 'The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and… ,
    • "At the age of fifteen, drunk on stolen Chardonnay or stoned on pot at a swimming party, the thoughts that come imm… ,
    • For the latest Bookends, here's Alan Taylor musing on his stint as an assistant librarian. ,
    • A ‘pretentious ass and impotent arriviste’ who surrounded himself with ‘degenerates, hooligans, childish layabouts,… ,
    • . reviews 'Aristotle’s Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life' by ,
    • "As Beevor shows, it was one of the most daring, dangerous and fiercely fought operations of the whole war. It was… ,
    • "The characters are very rich and very male, with astronomical ambitions. The potted biographies in this book sugge… ,