Book Nook

In this book nook, I collect all the books on historical sewing, costumes, historical context and different techniques that I have read and found interesting. You will find a short description of each book, why I recommend it and what purpose it could serve.

19th-Century Fashion in Detail* by Lucy Johnston

This book is a great start to the world of 19th century clothing. It shows garments from the collection of the V&A Museum and gives a short description of each. The focus of the garments is on outerwear, but there are also a few accessories on the last pages.

Personally, I missed some shots of the complete garment to get an impression of how the depicted detail looks in the overall context. However, you can look up some exhibits in the online catalogue of the V&A Museum by their number. In some cases, more pictures can be found there.

The descriptions are a good start for further research. People, inventions and trends, some of which are linked to historical events, are mentioned and can be used as a guide.

For the reconstruction of clothing are the illustrations quite useful, although they sometimes seem strangely distorted.

For me, this book helped me, to better understand the fashion style that I particularly like and to discover other beautiful pieces from other styles that I had previously ignored.

Fashion Victims: The Dangers of Dress Past and Present* by Alison Matthews David

This book gives an interesting overview of the dangers that lurked in our clothes over the past centuries. Most people have heard of toxic dyes, but I was not aware, for example, of how easily clothes could burst into flames.

It also describes how socially and economically the problems were (not) dealt with, and what inventions developed from there. The connections between the further development of clothing production and fashion trends, dangerous or not, is well presented.

I liked that some contemporary texts on the different topics were taken up, and also many examples were shown in picture form. This made it easy for me to imagine the different scenarios and the dealing with them.

An exciting book for anyone interested in the macabre side of our clothing (history).

The Cult of Chiffon* by Mrs Marian Elizabeth Pritchard

This book gives an interesting insight into fashion for ladies of the 1900s. This includes the combination of different garments both related to occasions, colors and budget.

A rough overview is given of how much a lady should pay for each garment and the minimum number of each she should own.
I find it interesting that then, as now, emphasis is placed on the fact that fashion should always reflect individuality and not be blindly imitated.

However, some views, especially those regarding gender roles, do not reflect our modern-day views. As is so often the case with old writings, it helps to place the statements in the context of the time.

The House of Worth: The Birth of Haute Couture* (1858-1954) by C. Trubert-Tollu et al.

This book is a great insight into the work of the father of the fashion world and his successors. I was particularly fascinated by the detailed photographs of Worth’s designs, as well as the background knowledge about his person. Little anecdotes add to the man’s humanity, even if he is somewhat glorified in many places.

The evolution of fashion over time and the background as well as drivers of these changes were also presented in an understandable way.
For me, this book has triggered a certain longing to see these clothes in reality one day, or perhaps to recreate one or the other. However, one must really say that the pure luxury somehow seems unapproachable.