Ready-Made Democracy: A History Of Men's Dress In The American Republic, 1760-1860

Paperback | February 1, 2006

byMichael Zakim

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Ready-Made Democracy explores the history of men's dress in America to consider how capitalism and democracy emerged at the center of social life during the century between the Revolution and the Civil War. The story begins with the elevation of homespun clothing to a political ideology on the eve of Independence. Homespun clothing tied the productive efforts of the household to those of the nation, becoming a most tangible expression of the citizen's attachment to the public's happiness.
Coarse dress did not long remain in the wardrobe, particularly not among those political classes who talked most about it. Nevertheless, exhortations of industry and simplicity became a fixture of American discourse over the following century of industrial revolution, as the mass-produced suit emerged as a badge of a uniquely virtuous American polity. It is here, Zakim argues, in the evolution of homespun into its ready-made opposite, that men's dress proves to be both material and metaphor for the rise of democratic capitalism—and a site of the new social arrangements of bourgeois life. 

In thus illuminating the critical links among culture, ideology, political economy, and fashion in antebellum America, Ready-Made Democracy will be essential to anyone interested in the history of the United States and the construction of modern life.

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From the Publisher

Ready-Made Democracy explores the history of men's dress in America to consider how capitalism and democracy emerged at the center of social life during the century between the Revolution and the Civil War. The story begins with the elevation of homespun clothing to a political ideology on the eve of Independence. Homespun clothing tie...

From the Jacket

"The marvel of Michael Zakim's work is its interweaving of the technical and commercial side of men's clothing production with the ideological and political consequences in a period of radical democratization. From his book we learn the meaning of dress from head to toe."—Richard Bushman, Columbia UniversityReady-Made Democracy explore...

Michael Zakim teaches history at Tel Aviv University.

other books by Michael Zakim

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:306 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.8 inPublished:February 1, 2006Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226977951

ISBN - 13:9780226977959

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: Sartorial Politics
1. A Homespun Ideology
2. A Clothing Business
3. The Reinvention of Tailoring
4. Dressing for Work
5. Ready-Made Labor
6. The Seamstress
7. A Fashion Regime
Conclusion
Notes
Index