Historic Costume: a sampling

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

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Those of you who are writing fantasies, especially historically based fantasy, here is a book you may want to look through for ideas about clothing: Historic Costume In Pictures: Over 1450 costumes on 125 plates. These costume plates were originally published by Braun & Schneider between 1861 and 1890 and re-released by Dover Publications in 1975. They illustrate a period from ancient times to late 19th century.

It is in no ways a complete catalog of garments, but it is great for the sampling of garb covering regions across Europe and the near side of Asia. This is particularly helpful if you don't know which time period or region you want your story to fit. By zooming in on a time and place, it allows you more time for meaningful research.

The pictures have a wonderful depth of detail. Folds and ripples in the fabric are meticulously shaded in. You can't see enough of the outfits from a single viewpoint to recreate them with any significant degree of accuracy, but with the help of someone who knows fabrics, you can narrow down types of fabric used and get a feel for how layers affect the total look.

In addition to the ideas the clothing can give you, since the plates show people wearing the outfits, study their hair and head coverings. A historic look isn't complete with simply clothing; it's the the styling and accessories that go with it. The assortment of items such as weapons, bags, instruments, walking sticks, and baskets being held by many of the figures also add to the setting flavor.

If you find this book helpful, there are additional Dover books on fashion. They are likely to be out of print, but if your library has them, you are in for some great ideas.


Emily White said...

This book sounds like a great asset! Thanks for sharing, Jaleh!

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