History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

19 October 2006

Must Have List: Georgian Costume

Over on the Word Wenches blog Susan Holloway Scott/ Miranda Jarrett and I started talking books . . . always a dangerous subject (especially when she and I both have an inexplicable “thing” for the faceless dummy in the grey silk suit from the Met’s new costume book, Dangerous Liaisons.

My costume library is huge (total overkill for the average researcher who just wants to know what her characters would have been wearing), but here are a few books that I think are essential to anyone writing Georgian (including Regency) set novels:

History of Underclothes by C. Willet Cunnington (ISBN: 0486271242)

It’s cheap ($6-$12), fairly accurate, and easy to digest.

Fashion by The Kyoto Costume Institute (ISBN: 3822812064)

The 2-volume Tashen edition can be had for about $8 from The Strand in NY (check Abe Books). The first volume contains all the pictures from Revolution in Fashion: European Clothing, 1715-1815 (which is going for a cool $225 on Amazon right now!) PLUS the second volume takes you up through the Victorian era and into modern fashion.

Jane Austen Fashion by Penelope Byrde (ISBN: 1900318121)

A fantastic little book filled with information from Jane's letters,

contemporary fashion plates, and more. Byrde's other opus The Male Image is the Holy Grail of men's costume through the ages. If you ever find a copy for less than $50 grab it! You won't be sorry.

Obviously no list will ever be comprehensive or complete, but these three are a great place to start. Somewhere down the line I’ll put up a post for lunatics and costume freaks (or people who just have too much dang money).


Blogger Monica McCarty said...

GREAT topic Tonda. Love the cheat sheet. I'll put a couple of these in my basket just in case I ever return to the Regency.

9:39 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'll have to do a Medieval must have list . . . but it’s so much harder (as you know!).

I really should have included 20000 Years of Fashion by Francois Boucher (ISBN: 0810916932). I think this is a must no matter what era you write in (and while used copies on Amazon are $160+, you can get it for around $50 on Abe Books).

9:59 AM  
Blogger Pam Rosenthal said...

You mentioned the Met's Dangerous Liaisons show and book, Kalen. I love how they put the costumes into period rooms.

But they went freaking nuts (in a fascinating way) with their next show, Anglomania. Period clothing and wild contemporary clothing by designers like Vivienne Westwood mixd up together with much period furniture and art. Crazed but brilliant pastiche -- I wrote about it on my own blog last May, and concluded that:

I did feel myself educated by it (dandies as the ancestors of punks? Why didn't I think of that?). I was delighted by it as well -- not to speak of deeply bemused a host of new ideas buzzing through my mind about the AngloManiacal pastiche that goes into writing a sexy, Regency-set historical romance.

The book will be out next month.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'll by that for the cover alone! Thanks for the heads up.

2:04 PM  
Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

I would definately love to get my hands on some decent medieval costume books. The internet is my usual source when I need that extra bit for describing the hero or heroines clothes (13th century). But sometimes, I just end up using "gown" for fear that I might put someone in a kirtle, or an over-tunic that shouldn't be!


2:23 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Kathrynn, you might start with 20000 Years of Fashion by Francois Boucher. It gives a great overview of the Medieval period. It’s by far the best survey book on costume out there (lots of pictures and really good summaries).

Another book that might be good for you is A History of Costume by Carl Kohler (ISBN: 0486210308). It goes into detail about construction that might be more than you need, but for the period your interested in it’s a good source.

One that I don’t’ have but have heard good things about from my SCA friends is Medieval Costume and How to Recreate It by Dorothy Hartley (ISBN: 0486429857). It’s only $10, so you don’t have much to lose.

9:53 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

And Drea Leed gave Medieval Tailor's Assistant: Making Common Garments 1200-1500 by Sarah Thursfield (ISBN: 0896762394) five stars, and she’s a costuming goddess!!! If Drea says it rocks, it ROCKS!

9:56 AM  

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