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College of Human Ecology

Historian to present 'Lost Art of Dress' and 'Fashion Education'

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Author, historian and dressmaker Linda Przybyszewski will visit Manhattan Oct. 22 and 23 to discuss women's fashion and the changing culture for women in the early 20th century. She will make public appearances at the Manhattan Public Library, Meadowlark Hills Community Room and Justin Hall on campus.

History professor Linda Przybyszewski

History professor Linda Przybyszewski

Przybyszewski is an associate professor of history at the University of Notre Dame. Her visit is sponsored by the Chapman Center for Rural Studies in the College of Arts & Sciences and supported by the Department of Apparel, Textiles, and Interior Design (ATID), the Manhattan Public Library and Kansas State University Libraries.

On Friday, Oct. 23, ATID will host a reception at 3:30 p.m. in Justin Hall's Hoffman Lounge. Following the reception, Przybyszewski will present "The Role of Home Economics in Fashion Education in the Early 20th Century" at 4:30 p.m. in 163 Justin Hall.

Home economics as a 20th century academic discipline grew out of the earlier domestic science movement. It studied the application of scientific and economic principles to managing American homes, and included research and teaching on nutrition and food safety, family and child development, consumer science, family economics, clothing and textiles, interior design and more. The Dress Doctors of the early 20th century, including Kansas State University home economics faculty members Alpha Latzke and Beth Quinlan, used scientific and artistic principles to teach American women to create affordable clothing for themselves and their families.

Przybyszewski will discuss her book, "The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish," at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22, in the Manhattan Public Library auditorium, 629 Poyntz Ave. The discussion is part of the Good Books Club at the library, and copies of the book are available for checkout prior to the event.

The author also will present "Changing Women's Lives: The Work and Legacy of the Dress Doctors" at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 23, in the Meadowlark Hills Community Room, 2121 Meadowlark Road.

The Dress Doctors were a group of early 20th century women who spearheaded a nationwide movement toward fashion that was beautiful, economical and practical. They reached out in particular to rural and working class women, offering advice on radio shows, at women's clubs, in magazines and at 4-H clothing clubs, and teaching them the principles and skills for bringing thrifty yet stylish fashion into their lives.

The social upheaval and economic shortages of the two world wars and the Great Depression also brought challenges to women's lives in the first half of the 20th century, and the Dress Doctors offered practical wisdom and simple principles that enabled ordinary women to weather the times.

All events are free and open to the public. Copies of Przybyszewski's book, "The Lost Art of Dress," will be available for purchase at each event, courtesy of Claflin Books.

This article was posted on Tuesday, October 13, 2015, and is filed under Apparel, Textiles, & Interior Design, Center on Aging, College News, Costume and Textile Museum.