Ready-Made Democracy: A History of Men's Dress in the

Ready-Made Democracy: A History of Men's Dress in the American Republic, 1760-1860 Ready Made Democracy explores the history of men s dress in America to consider how capitalism and democracy emerged at the center of social life during the century between the Revolution and the Civil War The story begins with the elevation of homespun clothing to a political ideology on the eve of Independence Homespun clothing tied the productive efforts of the household to those of the nation, becoming a most tangible expression of the citizen s attachment to the public s happiness Coarse dress did not long remain in the wardrobe, particularly not among those political classes who talked most about it Nevertheless, exhortations of industry and simplicity became a fixture of American discourse over the following century of industrial revolution, as the mass produced suit emerged as a badge of a uniquely virtuous American polity It is here, Zakim argues, in the evolution of homespun into its ready made opposite, that men s dress proves to be both material and metaphor for the rise of democratic capitalism and a site of the new social arrangements of bourgeois life In thus illuminating the critical links among culture, ideology, political economy, and fashion in antebellum America, Ready Made Democracy will be essential to anyone interested in the history of the United States and the construction of modern life

10 thoughts on “Ready-Made Democracy: A History of Men's Dress in the American Republic, 1760-1860

  1. Alex Alex says:

    The title of this book claims this is A History of Men s Dress in the American Republic, until 1860, and it seems like that was a publisher s decision because this is a history of the men s garment industry in the U.S from about the 1830s to 1860 The author takes for granted that the reader knows as much about fashion as he does, explaining little about what the fashions actually looked like or how they changed over 100 years they chan

  2. Ben Ben says:

    Clothing as commodity and sign Around the revolution, coarse homespun clothing was virtuous, a rejection of British trade and the British political economy, with its attendant lust for luxury, which corroded virtue At Washington s first inaugural, homespun was still key, but not coarseness a republican state could make clothes as good or better than those of Old Europe The Industrial Revolution transformed both the production and cost o

  3. Wm Wm says:

    A fascinating look at the development of democracy and capitalism in 19th century America through the lens of men s dress The second half isinteresting than the first, but you need to get through the first part in order to have the base for what Zakim covers in the second.

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