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Ask a fashion historian (Rebroadcast)

A price tag is seen on a suit jacket at a Thrift Town thrift store in San Francisco, California.
A price tag is seen on a suit jacket at a Thrift Town thrift store in San Francisco, California.

You walk into a second-hand store and pick up a blouse. It’s been washed. But you can still make out the sweat stains near the armpit. On the left sleeve, there’s a brown coffee stain. 

Maybe there’s no way you’re buying this blouse. 

But a fashion historian would have a very different response. They might see the pit stains and the coffee spill and wonder if the person who wore this was in a rush.  

They’d feel the wonky stitching and know it was sewn by hand. Or wonder if it was made in the ’70s because of the loose bell sleeves. 

In other words, clothing from the past tells a story and it’s a fashion historian’s job to interpret it.  

For this installment of our “Ask A” series, where we talk to interesting people about what they do and why it matters, we speak to a group of fashion historians about the power of what we wear. 

Copyright 2024 WAMU 88.5

Haili Blassingame