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Fashion Resources: Clothing & Costume History

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This union represents costume designers and illustrators working in the film and television industry. The website includes a membership directory, a gallery with photographs and drawings of members’ work, and information about awards and events. Visitors can click on the CDG Magazine link to view PDFs of The Costume Designer, the organization's quarterly magazine.

This is a digital collection of four historic costume books from the Special Collections and Rare Books Room of Waldo Library at Western Michigan University. "Each of these books illustrates aspects of dress from the mid-18th century to the mid-19th century." Two focus on popular Parisian fashion and two provide information on the peoples and clothing of Persia.

The CSA is a scholarly organization that “advances the global understanding of all aspects of dress and appearance.” The society publishes the journal Dress. Visitors will find information about job openings, grants and awards. A list of members provides links to a number of historic clothing related services.

This webpage contains links to photographs of real articles of women's clothing dating from 1600 to 1919 housed in a number of museums around the world. Viewers can browse by date and then clothing type.

The European Textile Network (ETN) is a nonprofit network of textile artists, cultural heritage institutions and educational institutions with the aim to "develop European co-operation in the field of textile culture." Visitors to the site will be interested in the European Textile Routes, which provides a large network of links (with brief descriptions) to European textile institutions and events both thematically and geographically. These tours are further subdivided into Monuments, Events, Heritage, Textile Production and Education & Research.

The Parson's New School for Design libraries have digitized over 1,500 fashion design sketches from the archival collections of Claire McCardell, Norman Norell and Mildred Orrick with the intent of documenting the history of 20th century American Fashion. "The images that comprise the Fashion Design History Database reflect the metamorphosis of women's fashion from the 1920s through the 1970s. Exploring themes of functionality and form, the designers whose work is represented in the database demonstrate the ways in which fashion has evolved along with women's changing roles."

This is a digital collection of over 400 fashion plates dating 1806-1914. The collection is organized into seven periods from Empire to Edwardian.

Fashion-Era is a link site devoted to analyzing “two centuries of women's costume history.” It is topically organized by time period, clothing type and subject matter.

Fashionable History is a online portal to resources for the study and teaching of fashion history. It includes links to scholarly journals, archives, libraries and museums, academic programs and bibliographies of scholarship and primary resources related to costume history.

Academics Daniel Miller and Sophie Woodward launched the Global Denim Project in 2007 with the intention of inviting anyone interested in the serious study of denim to contribute. Articles and essays highlight many aspects of denim from historical, sociological, anthropological and economic perspectives.

This website provides highlights from Godey's Lady's Book from 1855 to 1858 and three complete issues of Godey’s Lady’s Book for 1855.

This website makes available the contents of the January, February, March, April and November, 1850 Godey’s Lady’s Book online which includes period fashion illustrations.

While not a clothing history site, visitors have access to millions of photographs from the LIFE magazine archives including photographs that document costume and fashion history. Visitors may wish to try a keyword search by the name of a specific designer or a topical search by a decade.

The Motley Collection of Theatre and Costume Design is housed at the University of Urbana-Champaign. It consists of over 5000 pieces including costume and set designs. The collection documents 150 productions of Shakespeare and modern classics dating from 1932 to 1976, staged in England and the United States. The collection, most of it digitized, can be searched by play title, theater name, actor and director names, as well as medium.

The NYPL’s Digital Gallery has digitized a number of costume-related publication from the late 19th and early 20th century including “historical surveys as well as manufacturers' booklets and sample swatch catalogs.”

This website examines English fashion in the 1920s and 1930s as seen in film. The website divides the films by Work, Sport, Leisure, and Travel, and by decade. Each decade is further divided by Womenswear, Menswear, Childrenswear, and Formal Wear. The site includes a costume Bibliography and a handy Glossary with simple definitions of many items of clothing from these decades.

Subscription is required to access many parts of this website. This website offers some free articles on fashion history through its “Research Library” link. Host to over 10,000 web pages and more than 45,000 images. Features a free online costume encyclopedia and a photo collection provided by site users, then dated and presented chronologically online.

This links site is broadly divided by topic and includes links to reference works and museums, costume history, historic topics and ethnic and folk costumes.

The Costume Society publishes the Costume Society Journal. The site provides information about the society’s scholarships and awards and links to UK museums and associated costume societies.

This is a topically-organized links site. Topics include costume history (arranged by time period), costume designs and designers, ethnic dress (divided geographically), museums, movie costumes, patterns, vintage clothing and costume suppliers. The costume history section is extensive and includes visual timelines.

This website provides digital images of costume plates from the book, The History of Costume (Zur Geschichte der Kostume). Individual plates were printed between 1861 and 1880 and were eventually bound together in book form. These images illustrate clothing from antiquity through the late 19th century.

The University of Wisconsin's digital collection includes digitized collections on a number of textile and clothing related topics including the Helen Louise Allen Textile collection and the Human Ecology collection which includes millinery, dressmaking, clothing and costume images from the first half of the 20th century. Visitors may browse the collection by publication title or do full text searches.

While this Vintage Sewing Pattern Wiki has many commercial links, it is a good source of vintage clothing images. Conveniently visitors may search by time period (decade and individual year), garment type, pattern company and even well-known designers. Images generally show the pattern envelope and not individual pattern pieces.