So my historical costuming resources list from 2011 was less than a page long- I’m not saying that I’ve learned a lot in the past three years, but this list is now sitting pretty at a solid nine pages. Whew. And people wonder why I want to redo this damn series.
This list is by no means an exhaustive one- it’s a list of (primarily western) historical fashion resources, both online and offline, that is limited to what I know, own, or use! It’s a work in progress, and I’m definitely hoping to expand on it as my knowledge base grows. First things first, how about a little:
ADVICE FOR RESEARCHING HISTORICAL FASHION
- Read, and read about more than just costuming. Allowing yourself to understand the cultural and historical context surrounding the clothing of a particular region/period can be invaluable in sussing out good costume design. Looking at pictures is all well and good, but reading about societal pressures, about construction techniques, daily routines, local symbolism, whatever else will really help you understand the rhyme and reason behind costuming from any given context.
- Expand your costume vocabulary. When you’re delving into a new topic, costuming or otherwise, picking up new terminology is essential to proper understanding and furthering your research. Write down or take note of terms as you come across them- google them, look up synonyms, and use those words as a jumping off point for more research. What’s a wire rebato? How does it differ from a supportasse? Inquiring minds want to know.
- Double-check your sources. Especially on the internet, and double especially on tumblr. I love it, but it’s ground zero for rapidly spreading misinformation. Books are usually your safest bet, but also take into account their date of publication, who’s writing them- an author’s biases can severely mangle their original source material.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Do everything you can to find out information on your own, but feel free to reach out to people with more specialized areas of knowledge for help! Be considerate about it- the people you’re asking are busy as well- but a specific line of questioning that proves you’re passionate and that you respect their subject matter expertise can work wonders.
Okay, onto the links!
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of getting off the internet and looking into books! God bless the internet, but books are (generally, this isn’t a rule) better-researched and better-sourced. Bibliographies also mean each individual books can be a jumping off point for further research, which is always a fantastic thing.
Remember- owning books is awesome and you should absolutely assemble your own library of resources, but LIBRARIES. Libraries. You’ll be surprised to find what books are available to you at your local library.
GENERAL / SURVEYS
- British Costume from Earliest Times to 1820
Fine book with lots of first hand sources, but be wary of the photography in the book- reproduction costumes and thus somewhat less reliable. Though hilarious.
- Corsets and Crinolines
Norah Waugh’s invaluable survey of corsetry and corset patterns- used the world ‘round by modern corsetieres.
- Costume in Detail: Women’s Dress 1730-1930
Elaborate line drawings/diagrams of extant period garments! A fantastic survey.
- Cut of Men’s Clothes
PDF available online! Patterns for men’s period garments.
- Cut of Women’s Clothes
Patterns for women’s period garments.
- Greenwood Encyclopedia of Clothing Through World History
This is a library find, unless you have a pretty three hundred bucks lying around- a great, general resource.
- A History of Costume
A lot of good text and info, to be taken with a grain of salt. Be wary of any reconstructions and or “supposed” patterns that aren’t directly based on extant garments or firsthand accounts.
- Fashion (Taschen 25th Anniversary)
A survey of the Kyoto Costume Institute’s fashion collection- broad but beautiful. On every fashion student’s bookcase.
- Fashion: The Definitive History of Costume and Style
Great overview of fashion history from the Smithsonian and DK publishing.
- The History of Costume: From the Ancient Mesopotamians Through the Twentieth Century
Broad costume survey, second edition.
- What People Wore: 1,800 Illustrations from Ancient Times to the Early Twentieth Century
this is one of those “I am putting this here because I used it a ton when I was younger” but man, mixed bag. Really cool survey to browse through, but also work that is a copy-of-a-copy-of-a-copy in most instances and thus not necessarily trustworthy as a resource.
- What People Wore When: A Complete Illustrated History of Costume from Ancient Times to the Nineteenth Century for Every Level of Society
A collection of Racinet and Hottentoth’s costume plates from the 19th century. A beautiful survey but, since these are later illustrations, to be taken with a grain of salt.
Patterns fo Fashion books
Detailed, hand-drawn diagrams of historical fashion, inside and out. Pretty amazing stuff.
- Patterns of Fashion: The Cut and Construction of Clothes for Men and Women, C.1560-1620
- Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen’s Dresses & Their Construction C. 1660-1860
- Patterns of Fashion 2: Englishwomen’s Dresses & Their Construction C. 1860-1940
- Patterns of Fashion 4: The Cut and Construction of Linen Shirts, Smocks, Neckwear, Headwear and Accessories for Men and Women C. 1540-1660
Fashion in Detail books
Not what you want if you’re looking for photos of entire costumes- note the “in detail” bit up there. Just a beautiful series, and great reference for all the little things you might miss otherwise. The V&A has an amazing fashion collection, and it’s great to see them share it with the world.
- Nineteenth Century Fashion in Detail
- Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Fashion in Detail
- Underwear: Fashion in Detail
- World Dress: Fashion in Detail
The one non-western entry in the series.
- Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700 - 1915
LACMA’s response to the V&A’s series mentioned above, also an invaluable resource for historical fashion detail.
View the fullsize tutorial on DA | The most handy hair structure tutorials are this video by Proko and thisblog post.These are useful for thinking about the direction hair locks flow with different styles: 1 2 3 4 5 | Painting Realistic Hair | Shading with gradients: 1 2 | Tutorials by me including: Gimp Brush Dynamics, Coloring Eyes and Coloring Method.
All example characters are fromThe Silver Eye webcomic!
Hair color reference chart. It’s not perfect, but from what I could gather it’s pretty accurate.
IT’S INCREDIBLY HELPFUL AND CAN FOR INSTANCE GENERATE TOPICS AND FIRST LINES, CONTAINS LOADS OF EXERCISES AND YOU CAN FIND PLENTY OF WRITING TIPS.
BLESS YOU I LOVE YOU OH MY GODS I’VE NEEDED THIS
WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE?
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Having trouble coming up with your own post-apocalyptic hero(ine)? Try out this generator! I tried to include options that would help with building both the character and their world. I’d love to check out what you make with this generator if you wanna tag it “characterdesigninspiration”!
To Play: click and drag each gif or take a screenshot of the whole thing.
Crap I accidentally had this in the wrong blog’s drafts. Here’s the newest generator though!
Armor: None (saving the world while in the buff)
Weapon: Pitchfork (and doing it redneck style)
Accessory: Belts (redneck with a bit of final fantasy I guess)
Haircut: Angled Bob (but at least I have nice hair)
Hair Color: White (I get to be the white haired asshole!.. but that means I’ll probably die fUCK)
Role: Shamen/Priest(ess) (naked magical white haired girl I’M DEFINITELY GOING TO DIE)
Type of Apocolypse: new ice age (WHY THE FUCK AM I NAKED)
Years after Apocolypse: 5 (WHY THE FUCK AM I NAKED)
This is a great, unique little tool I found by browsing for writing resources. It’s name speaks for itself: it’s a synonym finder.
The site is clean cut, has soothing colors, and to-the point results for any word you look up.
For example, when I look up the word “romance,” I get this:
Synonyms: romance, romanticism
Definition: an exciting and mysterious quality (as of a heroic time or adventure)
Definition: an essential and distinguishing attribute of something or someone
Usage: the quality of mercy is not strained—Shakespeare”
I had no idea what a “hypernym” is. Apparently it’s a word with a more general meaning that a more specific word fall under. Like, color is a hypernym for green.
On the right corner there’s a button to make graphs! So you can trace each synonym from it’s root word, and see how far the other synonyms connect in comparison to others.
I really like it, so I’m going to definitely bookmark it on my writing tools list.
The latest generator, the random demon maker! Complete with horns, wings, and (mostly) unappealing personality traits, you can make your own demon in varying degrees of non-human-ness.
(Fun fact you can technically get my headcanon for demon!Dean on Supernatural [but that’s probably like a one in a million chance])
Quite a few people requested some form of trait/personality generator, and here’s the result! I wanted to keep it vague enough that the options could work for any universe, be it modern, fantasy, scifi, or anything else, so these are really just the basics. Remember that a character is much more than a list of traits, and this should only be used as a starting point– I tried to include a variety of things, but further development is definitely a must.
Could pair well with the gender and sexuality generator.
To Play: Click and drag each gif, or if that isn’t working/you’re on mobile, just take a screenshot of the whole thing (multiple screenshots may be required if you want more than one trait from each category).