15 MAY 1936, Page 40


By H. P. Price

Under the catch-penny title, When Men Wore Muffs (Dent, as.), Mr. Price has put together a_short history of men's dress, and some notes on correct modern wear. It. is a slight, haphazard compilation of facts,'drawn from the usual historieal sources, presented in a rather facetious manner. He takes as his thesis that " the main basic tendency has always been in the direction of utility, practicability, and conrinion sense." At first, when one considers the monstrous padded shoulders and breeches of the Tudors, the vast ruffs of the Elizabethans, the haberdashery of the Stuarts, the wigs of the Restoration and early eighteenth century (which were also the days when men wore muffs), and the corsets of the early Victorian dandies, this thesis seems untenable, But such freaks were nothing but the man of fashion's protest against the doctrines of utility and respectability which the rising middle classes were slowly but surely imposing on them. Since the middle Victorian period, apart from a few hysterical outbursts, it has become the fashion to -be as much like one's neighbour as possible, an easy ideal to achieve in these days of mass-produced garments. Mr. Price might have chosen better illustrations. The majority of them are shoulder length portraits of men who are not even mentioned in the text.