Within each volume, organization is by culture (“Ancient Rome,” “African Cultures”) or by period (“The Sixteenth Century,” “1946-1960”). Following a brief introduction that provides background and context, each chapter is divided into sections covering “Clothing,” “Headwear,” “Body Decoration,” and “Footwear,” and within each of these categories are an overview and between one and 20 alphabetically ordered entries on specific items or styles.
For example, the chapter on Europe in the seventeenth century has entries for breeches, bustles, stomachers, and waistcoats, among other articles of clothing. The chapter on Africa describes beadwork, body painting, and lip plugs, among other types of decoration. There are 430 entries in all, ranging from a paragraph or two to a page, and each concludes with citations to a few references, including Web sites, for additional information. Sidebars highlight related topics, such as hygiene and sumptuary laws.