The Culture of Clothes – A Celebration of World Dress

Authored by Giovanna Alessio
Illustrated by Chaaya Prabhat
Published by Templar

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The Culture of Clothes explores an array of cultures through their traditional clothing. It is a vibrant book filled with gorgeous illustrations and small chunks of easy to digest facts. There are six sections for the different continents and a few countries highlighted in each section. There is so much you can learn from this book, and the detail in the illustrations will have you poring over this time and again. Even the contents page is beautifully laid out, with coordinating stitch or floral patterns alongside the country’s name.

Each chapter opens with an overview of the continent, offering information about the landscapes, history and a hint of the significance of the varying attire. I love the way each opening chapter has a full-page illustration of an outline of the continent, which is filled with the beautiful hues and patterns of the region.

Within each chapter, we then get subchapters that delight us with the detail about specific cultures within a country in that region. These chapters highlight traditional clothes worn by certain groups of people, sometimes relating to their religion or specific cultural practices and often relating to their craft or work. There is so much variety, from the well known flouncy dress of the Flamenco dancers of Spain to the lesser-known attire of the Herero women in Namibia. You will find so much rich information regarding those specific outfits, what they are made from, why they are used and who would have worn them.

I found this book to be an interesting take on worldwide cultures and appreciated seeing a different aspect to many well-known nations. The Alsatian Dress from France, for example, intrigued me. I had never heard of the pilgrimage called The Pardon. In addition, I was fascinated by the differentiation of dresses that reflected the owner’s denomination of Christianity.

This is a great book to have out in a book corner in any KS2 class. Children will be automatically attracted to the beautiful cover and I can see this being popular during quiet reading times. It’s also a book you will be able to refer to often when discussing different countries, or cultures, as you come across them in topics or stories.

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