In the middle of last century almost every woman had a floral shirtwaist frock in their wardrobe. Floral Frocks: A Celebration of the Floral Printed Dress from 1900 to the Present Day covers the rise and fall of this garment through the 20th century, with a particular emphasis on the years between the late 1920s and mid-1960s. It summarizes the styles that were fashionable through the century as well as changes in textile design and clothing manufacture in this era.
What makes this book a particular pleasure to read, however, is the fact that the authors are interested in the floral frock as it was worn by ordinary women in work and play. Floral Frocks is thus more than a history of fashionable design. It is filled with snapshots and anecdotes from the original wearers of these dresses, making it a fascinating oral and social history of the mid-20th century.
The second (and smaller) part of the book covers the late 1960s through to today, and is rather more theoretical in its approach - and thus less appealing than the first part. It still manages to cover some interesting material, however!
(Woodbridge, Suffolk : Antique Collectors' Club, c2007. ISBN: 9781851495382)