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Author Archives:Liz Reed


Make it Work

Queen-Elizabeth-1-Ditchley-portrait“Everything old is new again.” We’ve all heard variations of this famous line, usually applied to fashion. We’re supposed to change our wardrobes seasonally, and seasonal staples change from year to year. All fans of Project Runway know that the fashion world moves quickly; as Heidi Klum says, “In fashion, one day you’re in, the next day – you’re out.”

Well, yes. But, in all deference to Heidi, in fashion you may be out one day, but you’ll eventually be back in again. I’m not referring to ultra-hip vintage-hunter fashionistas, or to hipsters ironically wearing an old outfit dug out of their aunt’s attic. I’m taking a long view of fashion history, and believe me, everything comes around again. You never know when a fad from Renaissance Europe or ancient Egypt might pop up again.

Think I’m barmy? Let’s look at a few examples. Picture King Henry VIII of England. Are you imagining a full-body portrait of Henry striking an aggressive pose, hands on hips and glowering? Go ahead and do a Google image search for Henry VIII – almost every portrait of his looks like this. See those puffy upper sleeves, and slightly less puffy lower sleeves? And the shirt fabric covering his chest? You’ll probably notice lots of little bits of white fabric poking out of the shirt and sleeves. These white bits are a voluminous white undershirt sticking through slashes intentionally cut in the outer layer of clothing. In Tudor England, these artful slashes in one’s clothing were the height of fashion. Hmm, intentionally slashed clothing? The most expensive clothing in the kingdom coming pre-ripped? Sounds familiar – think 80s’ hair metal bands, or the jeans purchased by today’s teenagers. See parents, your teens are just emulating British royalty!

Speaking of the 80s: shoulder pads. We can trace this interesting moment in recent fashion history back to Renaissance Europe. While variations existed from country to country, the general silhouette for women was characterized by wide shoulders, an extremely narrow waist, and very broad hips. The look was achieved with architectural undergarments like the corset and the farthingale, which was an early precursor to the hoop skirt, or crinoline, of the Victorian 1800s. For a prime example of the silhouette achieved with a corset and farthingale, look up a painting of Queen Elizabeth I. The corsets of the era made a woman’s upper body look quite conical, almost like an inverted triangle. Queen Elizabeth’s shoulders are even further accentuated by big puffy sleeves, wider at the shoulder and narrower at the wrist. These were called leg-o-mutton sleeves, and I do not look forward to the day when they come back into vogue. Anyway, the accentuated shoulder look for women was popular again in the 1980s, though to a much less dramatic degree, vis a vis shoulder pads. If Lady Gaga has any influence on modern fashion, we may see a resurgence of the shoulder pad.

I, like many people, use a staple of ancient Egyptian fashion in my daily routine: eyeliner. Men and women alike used kohl to outline and enhance their eyes. In fact, many modern grooming routines can be traced back to ancient Egypt: shaving, moisturizing, pedicures, deodorant, and many varieties of makeup, just to name a few.

Tracking fashion fads through history tends to be easier for women’s fashion than men’s because, at least in Western cultures, men’s basic fashion hasn’t evolved much since Beau Brummell. I’m speaking of course, of suits. Men’s suits owe absolutely everything to this fashionable gentleman from the Regency Period. Streamlined fitted pants, linen shirt, trim waistcoat or suit jacket – minimal, simple, and a classic look that has defined business wear for about 200 years.

Tim Gunn knows what I’m talking about. For a fun, quirky, witty, and practical look at fashion history and its influences on your own closet and fashion choices, check out “Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible: The Fascinating History of Everything in Your Closet.” We have a copy in the Norwood Library up in the fashion history section, which you can peruse by visiting the 391 call number section on the mezzanine level. For a slightly more academic perspective with great color photographs, try “The Complete History of Costume & Fashion” by Bronwyn Cosgrave. If you own more pairs of shoes than you can count off the top of your head, you need to flip through “Shoes, an Illustrated History,” by Rebecca Shawcross; the large color photos are amazing, and you won’t believe some of the historic shoes.

We define so much of our personal identities with our clothing and fashion, yet pretty much everything in fashion has already been done somewhere, sometime. There’s something comforting in the thought that even something as mundane as deciding what to wear today has indelible ties to the past and our predecessors. Remember, just be yourself – but you can also be Cleopatra, Twiggy, Madonna, and King Henry VIII at the same time. And they said I’d never use that Costume History class…

Liz Reed is an Adult Services and Information Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts.  Read Liz’s column in the March 30th issue of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.



Winter Reading BINGO: Hibernate with a Book

goodies and snowThe Morrill Memorial Library invites you to Hibernate with a Book this winter! You know you’ll be cuddling up with a few good books, so why not have a chance to win a prize with Reader’s BINGO?

Reader’s BINGO is open to everyone high school-aged or older. Any books you finish this winter can be included on your BINGO sheet, with each book counting for a single square. Don’t worry, audiobooks and graphic novels definitely count.

BINGO goes from December 2016 through March 10, 2017.

Each completed BINGO row equals one entry for our prize drawings. Gift Certificate prizes have generously been provided by the local sponsors listed below. book and fireplace

Download BINGO sheets below, or pick them up in the library. BINGO sheets can be submitted to Nancy Ling in Outreach or to Liz Reed in Reference. Turn them in even if you’ve only completed one or two rows – you might win! Sheets must be returned by noon on Friday March 10.

Download your BINGO sheet here!

Gift certificate prizes provided by:








Please contact either of these librarians with any questions:

Liz Reed:
781-769-0200 x110

Nancy Ling:
781-769-0200 x228


Spring 2017 Musical Sundays Concert Series

Spring-musical-sundays-concert-seriesThe library’s Musical Sundays Concert Series are funded by the Library Endowment Fund and take place in the Spring and Fall of the year. All concerts start at 3:00 pm. Our Spring 2017 series features the following line-up of local and world-renowned talent:

March 19th: Parkway Concert Orchestra – “From Baroque to Modern”

April 9th: Paul Speidel – “Jazzin’ the Blues”

April 23rd: Seele Musicale Chamber Ensemble – primarily Baroque music for voice, strings, and oboe

April 30th: Homegrown String Band – American Bluegrass


Click on any of the concert links above for more information. If you have any questions or to sign up for these concerts, please call the Reference Desk at 781-769-0200 x110 or visit the Reference or Information desks. You may also sign up for filling out the form below.


Love Around the World Film Series: “Eat Pray Love”

Eat-pray-love-movie-posterMonday, February 13th, 2017 at 6:30 pm

Fall in love with the movies during our Love Around the World Film Series, featuring romantic travel movies. The series kicks off with “Eat Pray Love,” starring Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem, and James Franco, and based on the bestselling book by the same title. “Eat Pray Love” (2010) is rated PG-13 and runs 2 hours 13 minutes. The following movies and times will be:

Thursday February 23: “Midnight in Paris,” 2011, Rated PG-13, 1 hour 34 minutes
Starring Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, and Kathy Bates.

Wednesday March 1:“Under the Tuscan Sun,” 2003, Rated PG-13, 1 hour 53 minutes
Starring Diane Lane, Raoul Bova, and Sandra Oh

Thursday March 9: “P.S. I Love You,” 2007, Rated PG-13, 2 hours 6 minutes
Starring Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler, and Harry Connick Jr.

All films will begin at 6:30 pm and popcorn will be provided by Regal Cinemas in Bellingham. To sign up for this film or for all the films in this series, fill out the form below, call 781-769-0200 x110, or visit the Reference or Information Desk.


Holiday Ornaments

ornamentHoliday ornaments are once again for sale from the Friends of the Library. This iconic flat ceramic ornament features an image of the Morrill Memorial Library on one side, and a little historical information on the other. These ornaments make great gifts, and can be purchased at the first floor Circulation Desk for $10.

This year we also have another library-themed ornament for sale, thanks to Grace Episcopal Church in Norwood. Samples of the spherical ornament with our updated logo can be seen at any public desk, and can be purchased from the Literacy Department for $10.

Thanks for you support, and Happy Holidays!

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