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Costume Design

A guide intended to aid students conduct library research related to costume design.


These books are simply examples of sources that are available to you.  Do not hesitate to do your own keyword/subject/title/author searches in the catalog.

Remember that most materials for costume design will be in 
GT507 and GT510 (for fashion)
PN2067 (for costume design and history).

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Historical Surveys and Fashion Theory (20th Century)

The development of a scholarly literature on costume history and fashion theory is largely a product of research that began in earnest in the mid-to-late 1960s. Historical surveys provide far-ranging descriptions and illustrations that permit readers to view dress changes over an extended period of time. The first important fashion theory publications, however, treated clothing as a key symptom of social change.

Men’s Clothing

Men led fashion from antiquity to our modern era, before ceding authority to the growing haute couture emphasis on feminine dress. As the literature of costume and fashion history grew through the twentieth century, studies of men’s wear remained considerably less numerous than those for women. Attempts at redressing this imbalance have begun over the last three decades, aided by the advent of gender studies. Many of these newer publications examine the traditional masculine diffidence about fashion, and some titles, in particular, look at the relationship between men’s clothing and popular culture.

Women’s Clothing and Fashion

The majority of publications on costume history relate to feminine dress. This reality reflects the social perception that the fashion business is all about women’s clothing, although recent scholarship is seeking to redress this imbalance. While men largely control the fashion industry, women-centric books and magazines continue to flood the marketplace. In fact, women’s garments only really achieved new direction in the twentieth century, when they were able to adopt masculine trousers and suits.

Fashion and Gender Studies

The new academic preoccupation with gender, ethnicity, and social interaction is of fairly recent date. Multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary studies offer evaluations of dress in new contexts. While social history has always been the underlying methodology of costume surveys, gender-based investigation permits broader considerations of the impact of dress on behavior and the marketplace. 

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