A Fashion Pioneer

In these modern times, there are loads of resources readily available for anyone with an interest in fashion. You can read one of the gazillion magazines devoted to fashion, pick up books on specific fashions or fashion history, read fashion blogs, watch television or videos on YouTube about styling, and so on and so forth.

In the past, people's choices were much more limited. We’ve written previously here about fashion plates, but the Klaidungsbüchlein (Clothes Book) by Matthäus Schwarz takes the cake. Schwarz was a German accountant who was obsessed with fashion. Not only did he spend a large portion of his income on clothing, he also commissioned 137 images of his various stylish outfits over a span of forty years from 1520 to 1560.

These images he then bound into a book now known as the Klaidungsbüchlein. According to historians, the book (which is considered the first fashion book in history) tells us a lot about Schwarz and how he used fashion. During this time period in Germany, there were specific sumptuary laws that regulated how a person of each class could dress. Schwarz was always careful to follow the laws, but he would do so in a clever way. For example, if the law said fancy sleeves were forbidden, he might commission fancy hosiery. There's lots more great information and facts about Schwarz's book we can't fit here, so if you're interested, you can read this great BBC article about his life and his book. 

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