Magazine article Humanities

Editor's Note

Magazine article Humanities

Editor's Note

Article excerpt

DRESSED FOR SUCCESS

I generally dislike theme issues. Reading them, I wonder which articles the editor would have published anyway and which are merely rounding out the set. So I hesitate to call this a theme issue, even if half the editorial space is allotted to one subject: fashion.

Furthermore, this, urn, monothemistic approach was taken quite by accident. Wondering if I might be able to drum up a piece on women's dress to complement the Chairman's interview with Michael Anton, author of the Machiavelli-inspired volume The Suit, I started by checking the NEH vault for clothing-related projects we've supported.

Thus I encountered Women's Shoes in America, 1795-1930, the source material for "Teensy-Weensy, Itty-Bitty Shoes" on page 36.1 am more the extra-wide, wing-tip type, but I thought I'd give it a read. And after thirty or so pages I felt ready to cobble a pump. It was that good. Excellence in the humanities often requires a passion for the arcane, but it takes good writing to successfully transmit that passion to others.

Then there was an ongoing book project about the color revolution in the clothing industry-by author Regina Lee Blaszczyk-about which I tried to feign indifference lest I appear to be a slave to fashion. But the story had espionage, war, and weird facts like how the color purple used to be worn exclusively by royalty. The necessary dye was rather expensive. It was harvested from the glands of two species of shellfish. …

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