bks01I have reviewed numerous books claiming a value to more than just Genealogists, but to others, like historians, scientist, computer users, and other cultural and professional cross centers. Out-of-Style: A Modern Perspective on How, Why, and When Vintage Fashions Evolved is the first book I have found to declare its value to Genealogists, along with groups possessing, perhaps, fewer similarities like Costume Designers, Theatre Companies, Social Historians, Vintage Collectors, and Fashionistsas. A book like this is of obvious profit to the Genealogist, knowledge of fashion can help date old photographs. However, there is more to this book. There is a history as to where and how the garments your ancestors wore were designed and made.

Author, and Illustrator, Betty Kreisel Shubert is undoubtedly an expert on fashion. She knows what she was talking about and has every faith in her own abilities. According to her Author’s Notes, she got started on this book when she found herself walking with a women carrying photographs on her way to a genealogy club meeting. With what sounds like every confidence in her own ability she told the women, “show them to me, I can tell by the clothes about when the pictures were taken.” The very next month she was asked to speak at the club, and from that moment her career went from “Costume Designer to Fashion Historian, Author-Illustrator and Columnist for Ancestry Magazine.”

Despite her seeming self assurance, Shubert spared nothing in her efforts to assure every detail in this book was covered. She talks of having as many as 18 books open at once trying to verify and resolve questions.

One of my favorite elements of the book is the illustrations. There is a unique 40’s/50’s feel to this book; yet, it was published just this year.

From the 1900s, the author reveals carefully studied fashions, looking for and sharing the everyday wardrobe. These are the clothes your ancestors wore. As the book moves into the 20th century, the content becomes more personal. Especially, the discussion from the 30s on. Here you have more than just the author’s historical perspective. These are years in which the author was hard at work in her career. Her memories are a part of the discussion.


Table of Contents

Decade by Decade, Illustrations and Descriptive Text

Author’s Notes: How This Book Was Born


PART ONE – 19TH CENTURY 1830-1900

Chapter 1: Evolution In A Thimble 1830-1900

  • Illustrated Overview of the Primary Silhouettes of Each Decade 1830-1900
  • How Fashions Go Forward and Sometimes Back Again

Chapter 2: Why Hoop Skirts Were Born

  • Illustrated Chart to Identify the Shape of Hoop Skirts
  • How They Grew and Why They Died

Chapter 3: The Nine Sequential Phases Of The Rise And Fall And Rise (Again!) Of The Bustle

  • Illustrations – What Was Hiding Under Her Bustle?
  • Illustrated Chart of the Nine Phases
  • Style Clues of the Nine Phases Decade-by-Decade

Chapter 4: The Out-Of-Style Fashion Show

  • Invitation to an Out-of-Style Fashion Show
  • From Stylish to Obsolete in a Few Short Years

Chapter 5: When Proportions Change

  • Illustrations – Proportions Change at Their Most Extreme to a Completely Opposite Look
  • Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder
  • Illustrations – Ever-Changing Erogenous Zones
  • The Pressure to Conform (Even if it Kills You!)
  • Illustrations – Foot Fetishes and Fashion Victims
  • The Pressure to Conform (Even if it Gives You Bunions!)
  • Arrested Development: Women Who Wait Too Long

Chapter 6: How Undergarments Affected The Posture And Shape Of Women’s Bodies

    • Illustrations – How the Changing Shape of Corsets Changed the Shape of Women and Their Clothes
    • All About Corsets … (How Fitting!)
    • Tight Lacing
    • Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder
    • A Good Body Never Goes Out-of-Style
    • From Upholstered Bodies to “LOOK MA! … NO BRA!”
    • From Thick Stockings to Sheer Pantyhose in a Few Hundred Years
    • News Flash! … 600 Year Old Bra Found in Medieval Castle!

Chapter 7: Special Occasion Clothes

    • Illustrations – The Milestones of Reform Dress
    • The Milestones of Reform Dress and the Birth of the Bloomer Girl
    • Illustration – “We Got the Vote.”…1920
    • Illustrations – Wedding Veils and Hairstyles 1840s-1920s
    • Is She Wearing Her Own New Wedding Gown or Her Mother’s?
    • Illustrations – Maternity Clothes
    • The Comfort of Mother Hubbard Dresses While “Heavy with Child” (aka pregnant)
    • Illustrations – First Phase Mourning Dress
    • How to Recognize Mourning Clothes in a Vintage Photograph
    • The Four Stages of Mourning in 19th Century
    • Mourning in the 20th Century
    • Mourning Dress Is Dead!
    • The Colors of Mourning
    • Life (And Weddings) Must Go On
    • Mourning Jewelry
    • Illustration – From Baggy Bloomers to Sexy Bikinis 1850s-1950s
    • The Evolution of Bathing Suits

Chapter 8: Modern Improvements

    • Illustration –Vintage Camera…”See the Birdie”?
    • How Early Photography Froze Moments In Time, So that We Can Look at the Past
    • The First Sewing Machines
    • Illustration – What an Old Sew and Sew!
    • Illustration – Before Washing Machines and Dryers
    • Wash Day Over a Wash Tub
    • Illustration – Permanent Wave Machine
    • Women’s Hairstyle Notes – 19th to 20th Century

Chapter 9: How To Trace Your Ancestors… Literally!

  • Illustrated Instructions – How to Trace Your Ancestors
  • Style Clues That Result From Tracings

Chapter 10: Overview – Women’s Clothes 1840-1900

  • Style Clues for the Fashion Detective
  • Illustrations and Descriptive Text Decade-by-Decade
  • 1840-1850s
  • 1850-1860s
  • 1860-1870s
  • 1870-1880s
  • 1880-1890s
  • 1890-1900

Chapter 11: Overview – Men’s Clothes 1840-1900

  • Illustrations and Descriptive Text
  • 1840-1850s
  • 1850-1860s
  • 1860-1870s
  • 1870-1880s
  • 1880-1890s
  • 1890-1900

Chapter 12: Children’s Clothes 19th Century

  • Illustrations – From Pantaloons to Pants
  • When Little Boys Wore Dresses and Little Girls Wore Pantaloons
  • Illustration – Little Lord Fauntleroy and His Sister
  • Overview – The Small World of 19th Century Children

Chapter 13: Boys’ Clothes 1840-1900

  • Illustrations and Descriptive Text Decade-by-Decade
  • 1840-1850s
  • 1850-1860s
  • 1860-1870s
  • 1870-1880s
  • 1880-1890s
  • 1890-1900

Chapter 14: Girls’ Clothes 1840-1900

  • Illustrations and Descriptive Text Decade-by-Decade
  • 1840-1850s
  • 1850-1860s
  • 1860-1870s
  • 1870-1880s
  • 1880-1890s
  • 1890-1900

PART TWO – 20TH CENTURY 1900-1960

Chapter 15: Overview

  • Illustrations – Evolution of Hemlines in 100 years
  • Overview: The Bottom Line About Hemlines and The March to Modernity 1900-2000

Chapter 16: The First Two Decades 1900-1920

  • Illustrations 1900-1910 – Women’s Dress Variations
  • Turn of Century Silhouettes
  • Illustrations 1910-1920 – Women’s Dress Variations
  • Designer Paul Poiret and the Demise of The Hourglass Figure
  • How Tailor-Made Suits and Sears, Roebuck Catalogs Helped Unify America
  • Shirtwaist Blouses and Show Biz Gossip
  • The Color Alice-Blue and The Birth of Teddy Bears
  • Illustration – Child with Teddy Bear
  • Illustrations – Hats 1900-1914
  • The Changing Shapes of Millinery 1900-1920s
  • Illustrations – 1906-1920

Chapter 17: America On The Road

  • Illustrations – Auto Touring Clothes
  • Automobile Touring Clothes
  • Photograph: 1916 Elgin automobile
  • How WWI Jodphurs and Riding Britches Replaced Dusters and Hats

Chapter 18: Fashion Changes 1920-1960

    • Illustrations – Dress Variations 1920-1930
    • Who Put the Roar in the Roaring Twenties?
    • Illustrations – Hats and Hairstyles 1920-1930
    • Everything Changed in the 1930s
    • Illustrations – Dress Variations 1930s
    • Illustrations – Hats 1930s
    • Illustrations – Hats 1940s
    • Illustrations – Hairstyles 1940s
    • Illustrations – Dress Variations 1940s
    • Fashions of the Forties and Hollywood Boulevard
    • The “Frantic Forties” Party Invitation
    • Newspaper Article
    • Illustrations – Dress Variations 1950s
    • The “New Look” for Women (and the “New Look” for Movies and Las Vegas) in the 1950s
    • Illustrations – Hair Styles 1950s
    • Phenomenon of the Fifties Felt Skirt
    • Illustration of the “Poodle Skirt”
    • Fashion Photo 1934
    • The Changing Styles of Fashion Photography
    • The Origin of Fashion Shows
    • Chanel’s Influence on Clothes Designed for The Movies
    • Authenticity of Period Costumes Designed for The Movies

Chapter 19: The Psychology Of Clothes

  • The Blue Velveteen Suit
  • The Eccentric Dresser
  • What is “Good Taste”?
  • The Twenty-five-year-old Dress – When do “Old” clothes Become “Vintage” Clothes?

Chapter 20: Overview, Men’s Clothes – 20th Century

  • Style Clues for the Fashion Detective
  • Descriptive Text 1900-1960s
  • Zippers and the Prince of Wales
  • The “New Look” for Men … Early 1950s
  • Illustrations – Foreign Cars Invade America
  • Illustrations 1900-1910
  • Illustrations 1910-1920
  • Illustrations 1920-1930
  • Illustrations 1930-1940
  • Illustrations 1940-1950
  • Illustrations 1950-1960

Chapter 21: Overview, Boys’ And Girls’ Clothes

  • Long Denims and Short-Shorts
  • Sears, Roebuck Catalog Prices at Turn-of-the-Century Illustrations: Boys and Girls Together
  • Illustrations 1900-1910
  • Illustrations 1910-1920
  • Illustrations 1920-1930
  • Illustrations 1930-1940
  • Illustrations 1940-1950
  • Illustrations 1950-1960

Photo: Visit to the Costume Collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London
Betty’s Bio
Recommended Sources


Out-of-Style: A Modern Perspective on How, Why, and When Vintage Fashions Evolved is available at Family Roots Publishing; Price: $31.36