The Library

Books on the Gerneral History of Costume

Red stars are for books I own, white for books I know from hearsay. The number of stars (max. 5) shows how much I recommend them.

[Cross-era] [Medieval & Renaissance] [Baroque, Rococo, Directoire, Empire] [Victorian] [20th century]


Ashelford, Jane, and Andreas von Einsiedel. The Art of Dress : Clothes and Society, 1500-1914. see amazon.com
I've perused this book in the library reading room, but it was not what I wanted at the time. Contains superb paintings that you don't see in many other costume books. Do not mix up with Ribeiro's book of the same main title (see below, 18th century)
Blum, Dilys. Illusion and reality : Fashion in France, 1700 - 1900. Houston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1986  
Boucher, François. 20,000 Years of Fashion. The history of costume and personal adornment. New York: Hary N. Abrams, 1987 see amazon.com
Has been accused of mistakes, but then most costume books have been - especially if published before the very late 20th century- the first edition of this one was 1965. Good if you want an overview of all eras, although "20,000 years" smacks of delusions of grandeur. Deals mostly with English and French costume, but attempts to include the rest of Europe. With a temporal scope as wide as that, the attempt must needs be embryonic. Overall it's a great cross-era source with wagonloads (over 1,100) of pictures.
Bradfield, Nancy. Costume in Detail 1730-1930. New York: Costume and Fashion Press, 1997. see amazon.com
The drawings in this book look very much like my own sketches. :) This is what any costumer would take home from a visit to all the museums the garments are from, if only they could afford the trip... and have a close enough look, inside and out. Of course we normal people can't have either, so this is a good substitute. Some of the garments here are the same as in Arnold (see pattern & construction section), so this is a nice compliment.
Braun & Schneider. Historic Costume in Pictures. Dover, 1975. see amazon.com
Reprint of a late 19th century German publication, consisting entirely of illustrations of costume from Pharanonic times onwards (for Europe and the Mediterranean), and for 19th century world-wide. With a few exceptions, it is relatively accurate but, what with the restriction of page space, does not illustrate the full range of variations. On the other hand, it's pretty good on 19th century European regional costume.
DeMarly, Diana. Fashion for Men : an illustrated history. New York: Holmes & Meier, 1985 see amazon.com
DeMarly, Diana. Working Dress : a history of occupational clothing. New York: Holmes & Meier, 1987  
Druesedow, Jean L. In Style : celebrating 50 years of the Costume Institute. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987  
Ewing, Elizabeth. Everyday dress 1650-1900. London: Batsford, 1985  
Fontanel, Béatrice: Support and Seduction: A history of corsets and bras. New York: Harry N. Adams, 1997. (orig: Corsets et soutiens-gorge) see amazon.com
Lots of background about all the things that women have used and are using to shape their body, the change of the beauty ideal etc. Good if you're interested in how the beauty ideals changed and what women did (and suffered) to conform to them. Covers the time from the inception of corsets until the late 20th century.
Lynn, Eleri. Underwear: Fashion in Detail. London: V&A Publications, 2010 see amazon.com
The third volume in a series (see 18th/19th century further down) of terrific detail pictures of items from the collections of the V&A. Pure porn, als all the "Costume in Detail" books are.
Kelly, Francis M. European Costume and Fashion 1490-1790. Dover, 2002 see amazon.com
Museum of London. Shoes and Pattens. London: Boydell & Brewer, 2002 see amazon.com
Rothstein, Natalie (ed). Four Hundred Years of Fashion. London: Victoria & Albert Museum, 1996. see amazon.com
Not quite a museum catalogue - it covers only a small portion of the collection - , but the closest you can get to taking home one of the world's most important costume collections.
Takeda, Sharon Sadako, and Kaye Duirkand Spilker: Fashioning Fashion. European Dress in Detail 1700-1915. München u.a.: Delmonico/Prestel, 2010 see amazon.com
Catalogue of an exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The in Detail" part of the title echoes the "Fashion in Detail" series of the Victoria & Albert Museum. Just like those, it's pure costumer's porn.  
Willett, C., and Phillis Cunnington. The History of Underclothes. New York: Dover, 1992. see amazon.com
An overview of those garments that most other costume books neglect... from medieval times until the 1930s in well-organised chapters. Illustrations are only b/w, but then there aren't many alternatives in the underwear department.

Medieval & Renaissance

Arnold, Janet. Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd. Maney, 1988  
Ashelford, Jane. Dress in the Age of Elizabeth I.  
Crowfoot, Elizabeth et al. Textiles and Clothing : Medieval Finds from Excavations in London, c.1150-c.1450. London: Camden House, 2001 see amazon.com
Egan, Geoff et al. Dress Accessories C.1150-C.1450: Medieval Finds from Excavations in London. London: Boydell & Brewer, 2002 see amazon.com
Houston, Mary G. Medieval Costume in England and France : The 13th, 14th and 15th Centuries. Dover, 1996 see amazon.com
Museum of London. Shoes and Pattens. London: Boydell & Brewer, 2002 see amazon.com
Newton, Stella Mary. Fashion in the Age of the Black Prince : A Study of the Years 1340-1365. Boydell & Brewer, 1999 see amazon.com
Norris, Herbert. Medieval Costume and Fashion. Dover, 1999 see amazon.com
Weiditz, Christoph. Authentic Everyday Dress of the Renaissance : All 154 Plates from the 'Trachtenbuch'. Dover, 1994 see amazon.com

Baroque until Empire

Baumgarten, Linda. What Clothes Reveal: The Language of Clothing in Colonial and Federal America: The Colonial Williamsburg Collection. Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 2003 see amazon.com
Blum, Stella. Eighteenth Century French Fashion Plates in Full Color. New York: Dover 1982  
The title lies: The range is limited to 1778-1787. Illustrations and nothing else, with the original French subtitles.
Blum, Stella (ed.). Ackermann's Costume Plates : Women's Fashions in England, 1818-1828. Dover 1979 see amazon.com
Burnston, Sharon Ann. Fitting and Proper. Scurlock Publishing Co, 2000 see amazon.com
One of the few books that deal specifically with North American clothing of the 18th century. Pictures and patterns of extant garments. Very popular with the Colonial re-enactment community.
DeMarly, Diana. Louis XIV and Versailles. New York: Holmes & Meier, 1987  
A good resource on that period - one of very few.
Delpierre, Madeleine. Dress in France in the 18th century. New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 1997 see amazon.com
One of the few books in English that concentrate on France rather than England. As the author has a long history of working with extant garments in various Museums in Paris, you can expect a high quality of research. Very thorough, addressing socio-economic matters as well as describing the changing styles.
Gilgun, Beth. Tidings from the 18th Century. Scurlock Publishing Co., 1993 see amazon.com
As far as I know, this book doesn't deal specifically with clothing, but with everyday life, manners and among others with clothing in in the North American colonies. If you do colonial re-enactment thoroughly, this is your guidebook.
Hart, Avril and Susan North. Historical Fashion in Detail : The 17th and 18th Centruries. London: V&A Publications, 1998 see amazon.com
A terrific book full of detail photographs of items from the Victoria & Albert Museum. You'll never get a closer look. Also contains background info on the garments and construction overviews. Indispensable to anyone interested in the period.
Placella Sommella, Paola. La mode au XVIIe siècle d'après la "Correspondance" de Madame de Sévigné. Paris: PFSCL, 1984  
Ribeiro, Aileen. Dress in Eighteenth Century Europe, 1715-1789.  
Ribeiro, Aileen. The Art of Dress : Fashion in England and France 1750 to 1820. see amazon.com
Deals with fashion as depicted in art, distinguishing between actual dress and more-or-less fantasy dress for the occasion of being painted.
Roche, Daniel. La culture des apparences : une histoire du vêtement (XVIIe - XVIIIe siècle). Paris: Fayard, 1989  
The Kyoto Cosume Institute. Revolution in Fashion : European Clothing, 1715-1815.  
Wrigley, Richard. The Politics of Appearances: Representations of Dress in Revolutionary France. Berg Publishers, 2002 see amazon.com
N. A. La mode en France 1715 - 1815 : de Louis XV à Napoléon Ier. Paris: Bibliothèque des Arts, 1990  


Blum, Stella (ed.). Victorian Fashions and Costumes from Harper's Bazar, 1867-1898 see amazon.com
Blum, Stella (ed.). Fashions and Costumes from Godey's Lady's Book. Dover, 1985 see amazon.com
Cunnington, C. Willett. English Women's Clothing in the Ninteenth Century : A Comprehensive Guide With 1,117 Illustrations. see amazon.com
Gernsheim, Alison. Victorian and Edwardian Fashion : A Photographic Survey. Dover, 1982 see amazon.com
Johnston, Lucy. Nineteenth Century Fashion in Detail. London: V&A Publications, 2009 see amazon.com

The V&A has made a series out of the Hart/North book Historical Fashion in Detail, listed above among the 17th/18th century books.. Now there's Nineteenth Century Fashion in Detail and, lately, the cross-era Underwear: Fashion in Detail. Like the original, they're all eye candy and worth having.

Leniston, Florence, and Joanne Olian. La Mode Illustree : Fashion Plates in Full Color. Dover, 1997 see amazon.com
Newton, Stella Mary. Health, Art and Reason : Dress Reformers of the 19th Century.  
Olian, Joanne (ed.). 80 Godey's Full-Color Fashion Plates (1838-1880). Dover 1999. see amazon.com
Olian, Joanne (ed.). Full-Colored Victorian Fashions : 1870-1893. Dover, 1999 see amazon.com

20th Century

Blum, Stella. Everyday Fashions of the Twenties As Pictured in Sears Catalogs. see amazon.com
Blum, Stella. Everyday Fashions of the Thirties As Pictured in Sears Catalogs. see amazon.com
Grafton, Carol Belanger. Fashions of the Thirties : 476 Authentic Copyright-Free Illustrations. Dover, 1993 see amazon.com
Lepape, Georges. French Fashion Plates in Full Color from Gazette Du Bon Ton (1912-1925: Illustrations of Styles by Paul Poiret, North, Paquin, and Others). see amazon.com
Mendes, Valerie. Twentieth-Century Fashion in Detail. Lonson: V&A Publications, 2009.  
Olian, Joanne. Authentic French Fashions of the Twenties : 413 Costume Designs from L'Art et la Mode. see amazon.com
Olian, Joanne (ed.). Everyday Fashions 1909-1920 As Pictured in Sears Catalogs. see amazon.com
Olian, Joanne (ed.). Everyday Fashions of the Forties As Pictured in Sears Catalogs. Dover, 1992 see amazon.com
Olian, Joanne (ed.). Everyday Fashions of the Fifties As Pictured in Sears Catalogs. Dover, 2002 see amazon.com