By Troy Patterson
Updated March 17, 2020 at 02:58 AM EDT

Uniforms: Why We Are What We Wear

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Fussell seems to have a thing for Marines. Who doesn’t? The jackets and red-trimmed trousers of their dress-blue uniforms snap with virile virtue. Fussell’s suggestion that the USMC sets the standard to which every doorman and marching band strives is among the small pleasures of this riff on official garb. Though it pokes through the closets of cops and nuns alike, Uniforms is far from comprehensive and has no conceptual throughline. (Is even a unified theory of epaulets too much to ask for?) Fussell is content to proffer amusing miscellany from Cosmopolitan’s daydreams about the UPS man to Mark Twain’s defense of his white suit. At least he’s always faithful to Thomas Carlyle’s idea, quoted at the outset, that society ”is founded upon cloth.”

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Uniforms: Why We Are What We Wear

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