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The Book of Costume! Though the philosopher and the politician may, perhaps, at the first glance, be disposed to regard with some degree of disdain the subject of which the writer has ventured to treat in this volume, yet a little reflection will be sufficient to convince them that, after all, it is not so frivolous as they may have imagined.
Costume, comprehending all that relates to Dress and Fashion, furnishing a standard of civilization, involving the interests of the arts and of commerce, is, in fact, an important element in the prosperity of States. The study of its changes, their causes, and their consequences, cannot, therefore, be unworthy the attention of the scholar or the statesman—of the man of business, or the man of pleasure; while there are few readers of the gentler sex to whom it can fail to prove a theme of exciting interest.
To exhibit the various phases of Costume during the succession of ages, whether induced by climate or locality, by political revolutions, or the capricious decrees of Fashion, among the various nations of the world, in their progress from barbarism to the highest refinement of civilized life, is the aim of the work here submitted to the public.
It will easily be perceived that it has required a wide range of reading to collect the scattered traits necessary for composing this picture, historical and graphic, of the costumes of both sexes, from the earliest times to the present day. Though preferring little claim to the merits of extensive erudition or deep antiquarian research, still the writer presumes to hope that it will be found a useful and pleasing record of all that is most desirable to be known on the subject of dress: a subject of universal interest to the human family, and which must continue to excite attention while our race endures.
FROM DESIGNS BY EMINENT ARTISTS.