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Historic costumes and fashion

Special Collections is a great resource for historic costume research.  Our photograph and rare book collections contain wonderful images of the clothing styles of earlier times, from antiquity to the 20th century, and you can even find clothing patterns in some of our 19th century periodicals! There is a whole genre of books which describe the clothing and manners of various nations and peoples.  Special Collections owns several of these books, most dating from the 18th and 19th centuries.  The colored plates in these books provide insight not only into the costumes of the peoples of the world, but how different ethnic groups were perceived by the West. The illustrations shown here are from an 18th century French book entitled Costumes civils actuels de tous les peuples connus, and depict the dress of a Bavarian woman and an upper-class citizen of Paris.

To find books on historic costume, search the library catalog for the subject term “costume history.” Fashion books and magazines can be found using the subject term “fashion.”

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