Fashion in History by Marybelle Bigelow

Read: 20 October, 2007

I’m not sure how well-researched this book is. It made a few statements that set off my warning bells. For example: In explaining the term ‘barbarian,’ she says “[t]his name was given to them by the Romans because of the fierce and loyal way in which they fought in battle.” I had always been under the impression that the name was given to them because their language sounded like “barrbarr” to the Romans. Details like this made the history sections questionable, but, knowing very little about clothing, there isn’t much I can say about those sections. however, I would recommend using this as a source of inspiration rather than as primary research.

The illustrations were inconsistent. Some were sketches, some pictures of art or statues, and they didn’t always make it clear what parts of the costume we were meant to notice. I found explanations rather lacking as well, often having only a vague sense of what the costume piece would have looked like or what the term referred to. Different sections (17-20th centuries, for example) received far more coverage than other sections.

All in all, I was fairly disappointed. As research, I found the book questionable. In terms of inspiration, I found the images lacking. Read en masse with the other books I’ve gone through, it works fine. It filled in a couple cracks, gave me a few more decent pictures to work from, and so forth. But I wouldn’t recommend it to read alone or as a primary source of research/inspiration.

Historic Costume in Pictures

Read: 10 October, 2007

Put out by Braun and Schneider. This is a picture book (the only text being the copyright notice, a publisher’s note, and a table of contents). It details a wide range of traditional and historic costumes from Europe, as well as Indian and Asian costumes from the last century or two.

I have no idea how accurate the images are, but they seem fairly consistent with images I’ve seen in the past. The images are in black and white and seem to have been redrawn from statues or paintings. A fun game was trying to identify where the images were redrawn from (some being famous enough that I could place them).

Because of the dubious accuracy and the lack of explanation, I wouldn’t recommend this book for research. However, if, like me, you just want inspiration for designing your own clothes, this is perfect. It covers enough breadth that it should provide all sorts of ideas.

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