Jessamyn's Regency Costume Companion: Bookstore pg. 3



The Art of Dress: Clothes and Society, 1500-1914 by Jane Ashelford (320 pp., hardcover, 1996).
This gorgeous book has many very close-up photos of garments, so clear that you can see the stitching, and interesting paintings and plates not always seen elsewhere. Just beautiful, and an interesting read; Ashelford discusses how the sociology of the time intertwined with what clothes became fashionable, and how clothes were being made. Not all that many Regency-era garments are photographed, but the text doesn't breeze over the period or overgeneralize the way so many several-century surveys do.


The Victoria & Albert Museum's Fashion Accessories Series cover accessories from the earliest examples in the V&A to the present, and unlike many "overview" books, they carefully follow the changes in style from decade to decade rather than century to century. Many examples from the Regency are shown, and all are beautifully photographed in intense, close-up detail that lets you see the stitching and quality of the materials. Well-indexed and including a bibliography, some books even offer extras (such as a glossary).Shoes includes shoes, boots, and pattens. Bags includes purses, wallets, and reticules. Ties follows the development of men's neckwear over four centuries. Fans has the most beautiful fans you could hope to see. All fascinating, and great eye candy.

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Fabric of Society: A Century of People and Their Clothes, 1770-1870 by Jane Tozer, Sarah Levitt.
This wonderful book is, woefully, out of print, but Amazon.com will try to find a copy for you. Full of fabulous close-up color photos the garments of this period, with quite a few day dresses from the Regency. Includes great information about how the fabric industry was changing around 1800, and the result that had on the fabric goods people were making their clothes from. Highly recommended.

Federalist & Regency Costume: 1790-1819 by R. L. Shep (1998).
Primarily a reprint of a Regency book written by and for tailors, this contains many contemporary cutting diagrams for making items like men's coats that are hard to find elsewhere. The only illustrations are black-and-white low-resolution reproductions of contemporary fashion plates (male and female), but these are accompanied by complete contemporary descriptions.

In all, this book is really good for the experienced sewer or historian who's looking for some truly period options for men's clothes, and details about what colors and fabrics were really stylish--for example, men's dress coats could be brown, bottle-green, or blue, but the first two had to have self-covered buttons and the blue had to have gold buttons to be in style. Includes an excellent glossary of fabric and style words, such as "kerseymere" and "robings."


Late Georgian Costume by James Wyatt; edited by R.L. Shep (1991).
This book, similar to the one above, reprints two late-Regency publications, The Tailor's Friendly Instructor (1822) and The Art of Tying the Cravat. Interesting historically - and if you know what you're doing, these will help you to create very authentic Regency garments.

Ackermann's Costume Plates: Women's Fashions in England, 1818-1828 by Stella Blum, Rudolph Ackermann (90 pp.).
Dover specializes in reprinting public-domain materials at budget prices, and this book is no exception. For just over $7, anyone interested in late-Regency fashions should be sure to snap this up. Some images are in color, most black and white; but all have the original descriptions, such as what sort of colors and trim details were used. Don't miss the glossary in the back, explaining word like "bombasine" and "quilling." Heartily recommended.

Two Centuries of Costume in America by A. Earle (hardcover).
An amazing book from the early 1900s, variously reprinted as The History of American Costume and Two Centuries of Costume in America. The illustrations are minimal, but the information is incredible. Earle quotes letters, newspapers, memoirs, and more to give you a real look at what was fashionable from year to year, not just decade to decade. Did you know that almost all fashionable American women wore grecian-style wigs in the first few years of the 1800s? A wonderful book.

In the Russian Style by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Audrey Kennett (184 pp., hardcover)
This hardcover book is a steal at $13. Amid the information about the Russian aristocracy of the past several centuries (fascinating in itself) are contemporary paintings and plates, and photographs of fabulous, amazing clothes. Includes several wonderful garments from various periods of the Regency.


Everyday Dress of Rural America 1783-1800: With Instructions and Patterns by Merideth Wright; illustrated by Nancy Rexford (113 pp., 1992).
Although only catching the very beginning of the Regency, this is for anyone doing living history for this period. Be aware that rural American dress of 1800 is not going to look like the fashion plates on this website - when you allow time for fashions to cross the Atlantic and make it to rural areas, the lack of money for fripperies, and an unwillingness to discard clothes that still function, poor and rural people of 1800 would be quite a few years out of date. The book costs only a little over $7 and is extremely useful.

Corsets and Crinolines by Norah Waugh.
This book offers a survey of corsets and hoopskirts from the eighteenth through early twentieth centuries. It was written in 1954, so don't expect any glossy photos - just plates and a few black-and-white shots - but it really helps the reader put changing sillhouettes in context. There are also lots of contemporary quotations from fashion reports, letters to the editor, and advertisements, which help give you a feel for how people really viewed the clothes they were wearing. Although there are charted patterns for corsets, there isn't a Regency corset pattern.

The History of Underclothes by C. Willett Cunnington, Phillis Cunnington (266 pp).
This is a wonderful little book that seriously surveys the history of undergarments, using contemporary quotations and surviving garments to give you a feel for what people were really wearing under their clothes - and how they were wearing them. Includes black-and-white photos of antique garments. Only about $8!

Vintage Hats & Bonnets 1770-1970: Identification & Values by Susan Langley (404 pp.).
Arranged by decades, each section begins with an historical and fashion overview, followed by a description of the hat trends for the period. Featuring fashion plates, old photos, and modern photos of hats from each period.



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