Women, History, Feminism

Carol Dyhouse


This book explores the changing meanings of glamour, its relationship to femininity and fashion, and its place in twentieth century social history. It also examines with wit and insight the history and meaning of costume, cosmetics, perfume and fur.
How do we understand glamour? Has it empowered women or turned them into objects? Once associated with modernity and the cutting edge, is it entirely bound up with nostalgia and tradition?

This unique and fascinating book tells the story of glamour. It explores the changing meanings of the word, its relationship to femininity and fashion, and its place in twentieth century social history. Using a rich variety of sources - from women's magazines and film to social surveys and life histories - Carol Dyhouse examines with wit and insight the history and meaning of costume, cosmetics, perfume and fur.

Dyhouse disentangles some of the arguments surrounding femininity, appearance and power, directly addressing feminist concerns. The book explores historical contexts in which glamour served as an expression of desire in women and an assertion of entitlement to the pleasures of affluence, finally arguing that glamour can't simply be dismissed as oppressive, or as male fantasy, but can carry celebratory meanings for women.

Author Bio

Carol Dyhouse is a Research Professor in History at the University of Sussex. She is the author of Girl Trouble: Panic and Progress in the History of Young Women (Zed, 2014).

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. The Origins of Glamour: Demi-Monde, Modernity, 'It'
  • 2. Hollywood Glamour
  • 3. Dreams, Desires and Spending
  • 4. Princesses, Tarts and Cheesecake
  • 5. Revolutions
  • 6. Glamazons, Grunge and Bling
  • 7. Perspectives and Reflections: Glamour for All?
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Acknowledgements, Picture Credits
  • Index


'Carol Dyhouse has written a study of the history of the conception of glamour in the twentieth century that is sprightly, provocative, and penetrating. She adds greatly to our understanding of a phenomenon that has been central to women's attitudes toward themselves, as they use the products of the beauty industry to both standardize their looks and to express cultural rebellion. This work will be interesting to both scholars and general readers alike.'
Lois Banner, Professor of History and Gender Studies, University of Southern California

'In her survey of changing ideas about 'Glamour' throughout the twentieth century and beyond, Carol Dyhouse has succeeded in fashioning scholarly empirical research into a clear, engaging and enthusiastic account. Rejecting the idea that women are victims of the imperative to glamour, she makes a strong argument for the aspirational aspect of the perennial desire for physical beauty, glamour as a right rather than a prison.'
Elizabeth Wilson, author of Adorned in Dreams

'In her relish for brassy blondes, gutsy flamboyance and tinsel vulgarity, Dyhouse writes like a woman who knows her way around the lipstick counter and the flea market. She shows how a parade in the trappings of glamour expressed aspiration and assertion at odds with mousy, unobtrusive conformity. Glamour was a cynical business, but also a shriek of camp defiance. All fur coat and no knickers. Dyhouse has whipped the stopper from a vintage bottle of 'Evening in Paris' and conjured a vanished world - cheap, a little tarty, but impossible to forget.'
Amanda Vickery, Professor in History, Royal Holloway, University of London

'Rigorously researched and persuasively argued, this book represents an important contribution to the social history of fashion and of fabulousness.'
Caroline Weber, author of Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution

'Riveting - from perfume to sexual politics and the precise definition of "It", Dyhouse gives us an entertaining and innovative analysis of a topic that, while hitherto underexplored, has a huge impact on all our lives.' Sarah Gristwood, author of Fabulous Frocks (2008)


Publication Date: 10 February 2011
240 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781848138612
Hardback: 9781848134072
eBook ePub: 9781848136861
eBook PDF: 9781848134096
eBook Kindle: 9781780326894

Why is peer review so important?

Learn more about the various types of peer review, why it’s so important, what the social and political considerations of peer review are and how we use it at Zed Books.