In Dress Codes, law professor and cultural critic Richard Thompson Ford presents a history of the laws of fashion from the middle ages to the present day, a walk down history's red carpet to uncover and examine the canons, mores, and customs of clothing—rules that we often take for granted.
... a long-overdue course correction...on the rules, both written and unwritten, that govern what people put on their bodies and so much more ... Dress Codes focuses an even wider lens on what we wear, and on what influences those choices. Taking readers around the world from the 1200s to today, Ford embarks on an ambitious and comprehensive exploration of how fashion has been used by people both with and without money and power ... Moving closer to the present, a chapter on resistance provides an in-depth analysis of the clothes worn during the civil rights movement of the 1960s ... Ford’s writing is steeped in extensive research and makes what could be a dull history lesson about fashion a deeply informative and entertaining study of why we dress the way we do, and what that tells us about class, sexuality and power.
[A] sharp and entertaining history of the rules of fashion ... In a jam-packed, fact-filled survey, Mr. Ford skillfully examines how fashion, far from being mere frivolity, has shaped people’s lives from the 14th century to the present ... An expert on civil rights and antidiscrimination law, Mr. Ford has plenty to say when it comes to workplace regulations on hairstyles, makeup, tattoos, fingernails and jewelry.
... [a] thoughtful history of the rules and rituals of attire ... Ford...has a lawyer’s eye for the ways in which legislation and common law have helped shape attitudes about fashion, along with a fan’s sustained curiosity about fashion’s visual language ... Ford makes an elegant argument that because fashion is a living language, it has the capacity to evolve.