the bookshelf

There is no way to possibly thank absolutely every single person who inspired me on this path of total obsession, however it is possible to at least create a virtual bookshelf or bibliography of most used and very nostaligic sources. As i started to be interested in costume in the time of the card catalogue (though there were monochrome computers and databases, and microfiches) this is going to take a while to properly compile. I’ll try to arrange this by book type and publication date.

Some books naturally fall in to several categories, so I have listed them under the most specific heading. So if you want patterns, I have listed them all with contruction books regardless of how in depth or broad their scope.

Surveys of costume:

The Book of Costume: Milla Davenport. Outstanding collection of images from all manner of contemporary sources. Given the publication date it is a remarkable book for many reasons including the sheer number of images. The images are small but incredbly diverse.

Costume, by James Laver. One of the early surveys with good clear large images. Mostly fashion plates for the 19th century on.

Die Mode/Modes and Manners, by Man von Boehn. Very small very portable and outstanding diversity of images from across Europe that shows very clearly fashions almost by year from a rnge or resources. Separated in to smaller volumes in the original German and in to two volumes (images much reduced in quality due to the reprinting process) for English. Well worth the effort of finding in the orignal printing, check your local university.

Visual History of Costume, by Aileen Ribeiro, Valerie Cumming. Available in volumes by century (and an accessories book) and also as a single book. Worth hunting out the individual volumes. Each image is cited and the costume elements decribed (head, body, accessories.)

Historic Cosume, by Katherine Morris Lester. Small book. Classic example of a few contemporary images mixed with redrawings. However some of the plates are quite unique.

The Encyclopedia of Fashion, Georgina O’Hara. I have a soft cover reprint, however the earlier hardcover has some amazing images. My first recollection is of the photograph of Rosa Bruck in a pale gown with dark beads and wide, tapered floral border of her train.

Costume in Pictures, by Phyllis Cunningham. A lovely assortment of fashion plates especially.

Early photographs:

Victorian Dress in Photographs: Ginsberg. Beautiful. Clear and well organised layout.

Dressed for the Photographer, Joan Severa. Huge book, incredible resource.

American Victorian Costume in Early Photographs, Priscilla Harris Dalrymple. The title may give some a headache but this is another fantasic photographic resource. There are some clear differences between continental and American fashions of the 1870s on especially. These three books would be a wonderful resource for anyone interested in mid-late 19th century western fashion and costume.

Extant garments:

The Woman in Fashion, Doris Langley Moore. Mid 20th Century women of stage and screen in original 19th Century dress. While hair and make up, as well as the actual phographic process dates these, the gowns and accessories are treated with respect and worn with correct undergarments and selected to suit each model.

The Perfect Lady,. Another mid 20th century book with contemporary women in original dress. A few rare examples of dress not seen outside of fashion plates.

The Opulent Era, Fashions of Worth, Doucet, and Pingat, ELizabeth Ann Coleman. The go to for Worth fashions especially. Some close ups as well as full page images. Dresses displayed on mannequins with contemporary images for comparison.

Occasion specific:

The Royal Wedding Dresses, by Nigel Arch, Joanna Marschner. Gorgeous especially for mid-late 19th century gowns in historic photographs and contemporary art.

Era/Region specific:

The Fashionable Lady in the 19th Century, by Charles Harvard Gibbs-Smith. Lovely fashionplates not always seen elsewhere.

Fashions in London, by Barbara Worsley-Gough.

In True Colonial Fashion, by Eve Ebbett. New Zealand western fashion, includes some rarely seen extant items.

Paris Fashion, a Cultural History, by Valerie Steele.

I Do, 125 years of Weddings in New Zealand. A seemingly narrow focus but actually very interesting. Clear examples of how wedding fashions changed tly while remaining the same! Bridesmaids in identical dress but often also nearly indistinguishable from the bride by the modern eye.

Hispanic Costume: 1480 – 1530 Ruth M. Anderson, another era and time specific book that manages to just make you want more.

Collecting Costume, by Naomi Tarrant. Excellent book for the enthusiast as well as curator. Excellent examples for care and display of historic dress. Include images of extant items displayed and as originally worn- brilliant explorataton of costume as stand alone art but also how it is intrinsicly a personal and human art and depends on the human form to truly understand.


Fashion Theory:

Fashion and Modernity, by Christopher Breward, Caroline Evans. 


A History of Costume, by Koeler. A mix of artworks and extant items. SOme patterns are taken directly from contemporary dressmaker or tailor’s books (including some 16th century women’s bodices that have since been verified as coming from tailors’ books.) The English publication has relatively sparce sourcing however some of the patterns as easily scaled up with the meaxurement system.

Women’s Costumes 1600-1750, by Z. Halls. very small book but it includes two patterns for midle and later mantua. 1/8 scale.

History of Costume by Blanche Payne. The first edition includes an incredible selection of patterns of costumes from American and European museums. Sadly subsequent editions do not have this as the editors felt they could be substituted for patterns in other works. Definitely not. There are a few overlaps but over all there are too many unique patterns to have discarded them. Some libraries are replacing the first edition with new ones. The first edition is truly a must have.

Patterns of Fashion, by Janet Arnold. The first three books covering the fashion layers of the 16th to 20th century have made the art of construction clear to all those who have had them. The newest book dealing with early underwear (and ruffs etc.) continue her work with the addition of colour printing.

Dress Design, by Talbot Hughes. A very early survey of costume that also includes dozens of patterns from costumes in his personal collection. The patterns are rough outlines compared to what we are used to now, however they cover yet more garments not included in other books.

Cut of Women’s Clothes, by Nora Waugh. In large part a series of patterns from extant items but also a good survey of dress/tailoring pattern techniques as well as contemporary texts. 1/8 scale so can lie side by side with Arnold and Payne. Also Cut of Men’s Clothes, however I have more of a personal interest in the women’s patterns.

Corsets and Crinolines, by Nora Waugh. In layout and feel very much in line with her Cut of- series but the patterns are larger.

The Evolution of Fashion: Pattern and Cut from 1066 to 1930, by Margot Hamilton Hill, Peter Bucknell. Nicely laid out scaled patterns. Extrapolated costume styles based on a general survey. Good for an overview and the 19th century patterns on are especially well made. You can lay this book out side by side with the 1/8 scale patterns found in other publications.

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