Regency Fashion History Resources… Books, Fashion Plates & More

Recently, I was asked by Fashion Doll Fridays had ended and when the Flora paper doll might get some stylish outfits. The answer is… probably never on the Flora outfit front, but Fashion Doll Fridays ended when I stopped doing such a regularly scheduled blog. The historical paper dolls are the hardest to draw, because of research and planning time.

I’m a librarian and I’m compulsive about research, plus I collect fashion history books. Sometimes this is a good thing… I have books I can use, but sometimes this means I get wrapped up frustrated when I can’t figure out what shoes looked like circa 1845. I don’t mind adapting, but I like to be pretty darn sure that what I’m drawing is correct, or as correct as I can be given constraints of time and/or skill. So, I don’t do as many historical paper doll sets as I would like.

However, it recently occurred to me that people who like paper dolls, usually also like historical clothing. Therefore, I thought I would post about some of the sources I used when I was drawing Flora outfits and then people could, armed with research guides (as we say in the Library biz), draw their own. And submit them to the Showcase and everyone would be happy… Especially Flora.

As sometimes happens, this blog post turned out stupidly long… so I put a cut in.

More Below!

On the Bookshelf… John Peacock’s The Chronicle of Western Costume

I recently admitted to myself, which was hard to do, that I collect costume history books. All the signs were there, of course…. a disturbingly large number of them… buying things because they “filled in a niche” in the collection… but it was still hard to admit it.

I suppose that is the problem with addiction.

Anyway, I just bought The Chronicle of Western Costume: From the Ancient World to the Late Twentieth Century by John Peacock (ISBN: 978-0500284476), because the library at the University where I work has a copy, but only one and it’s not a strong costume history collection to begin with and I just couldn’t bring myself to check out the only copy. I decided to leave it for the undergrads who need it. Instead, I bought my own.

The Chronicle of Western Costume: From the Ancient World to the Late Twentieth Century by John Peacock (ISBN: 978-0500284476) was originally published in hard cover by Thames & Hudson, but came out in paper back two years ago. I wasn’t willing to shell out for the hardcover, since I don’t think it’s that good of a book, but for less than 20 bucks I was swayed into purchasing it.

Of the overviews of the Western Costume that try to cover “nearly everything,” I find Peacock’s The Chronicle of Western Costume: From the Ancient World to the Late Twentieth Century to be the most successful. I do not, however, think his writing is up to the standard set by other writers (mostly Laver and Nunn) in the field. In fact, there is very little text- this is basically a picture book, illustrated by Peacocks own illustrations done in watercolor.

The Chronicle of Western Costume: From the Ancient World to the Late Twentieth Century has some problems though. The lack of sufficient annotations and a weak bibliography mean that I certainly wouldn’t use it to write anything academic, but for those moments when I need inspiration, or I am trying to remember what people wore in the 1660′s, it’s clear concise images make up for textual failings for me when I’m drawing paper dolls, but he wouldn’t be my sole source, ever.

Besides, I’m drawing paper dolls, not writing a PhD thesis… Give me a few more years before I worry about that idea.

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