historical costume


Wedding dress (via The Met)

Design House:House of Worth (French, 1858–1956)



Medium:silk, pearl

Employing a textile design that mirrors itself from selvage to selvage, this dress is pieced into a perfectly symmetrical image at the center front. Impeccable finishing details such as this distinguish the couture garment from the countless products of the ready-to-wear market that flourished in the mid- to late nineteenth century as a result of the Industrial Revolution. The use of the textile pattern to emphasize the woman’s fashionable hourglass silhouette, achieved with the help of a steel-boned corset, further demonstrates the mastery of dressmaking technique at the House of Worth, as do the tiny hand-stitched cartridge pleats at the shoulder that create voluminous sleeves. The design of this sleeve, broad at the upper arm and fitted at the lower arm with the sleeve extending over the back of the hand, refers to sixteenth-century dress styles.


Black History Month!

2016 edit: a lot of teachers and librarians asked if there was a poster for this that they could buy.  Nope!  This post was made as an educational aid and teachers oughtn’t have to pay anything to get it in their classroom.  So here’s a link to download the poster’s print file to print it yourself:
did include the series in my recent art book 555 Character Drawings, so if you want it in a book with a lot of other stuff, that’s available, too.

My favorite parts of history (as might be obvious from my choice of subject matter when making books) are the ones that fall into easily-categorized genres, genres with associated visual iconographies. This is the sort of stuff I loved as a kid: pirates, knights, cowboys, explorers, romans and Egyptians and flying aces. Stuff you could find featured in a bag of toys or a generic costume.

For Black History Month, I thought I might visit some of these adventure-leaning periods and pick a few historic black people from those eras to draw, just for fun. If you’re doing a project or report in school this month, you could do worse than to tackle one of these toughies.  Feel free to share some of these with youngsters that you know.  And call them youngsters, they LOVE that.

(longer write-ups under the break)

Keep reading


My 3.5 year old daughter wanted to be a princess for Halloween.  OK! I said, then all common sense flew out the door and I proceeded with making her an entire, (mostly) historically accurate 18th century Robe a la Francaise, using nothing but thrifted bed sheets for the fabric.

If you’re interested in the nitty gritty details - I’ve made a blog post detailing the construction process

ETA: I’ve had a number of the same questions asked about this costume - so I whipped up a quick Q&A post that you can read on my blog.


i was looking up historically accurate clothing as a bit of art inspiration and found the online museum of saudi arabian costume

there’s a bunch more gems just like these and they’re all so beautiful and unique.  there’s also great information about the clothing, too, such as how they were made, who wore them, what fabrics were used, what the different parts of the costumes were called, etc.  just a really fun and informative site and i thought i would share my find.


I think next time i’ll put a petticoat under this dress - it doesn’t have nearly the “oomf” level I wanted in these pictures. But other than that I am really ridiculously happy with how this costume turned out! I love this dress.

It’s made from seven yards of sari fabric and five yards of polyester suiting. I draped, drafted, and made the dress myself in a week from sixty dollars worth of materials. The dress is based off of one in this painting.

Large portions of this were hand sewn, including the beaded details around the neckline. More information on how I made it is posted here!

I made the headpiece as well, there will be a tutorial for it posted here tomorrow!


Mary Lincoln’s purple velvet skirt with daytime bodice is believed to have been made by African American dressmaker Elizabeth Keckly. The first lady wore the gown during the Washington winter social season in 1861–62. Both pieces are piped with white satin, and the bodice is trimmed with mother-of pearl buttons. An evening bodice was included with the ensemble. The lace collar is of the period, but not original to the dress.

After Abraham Lincoln’s death, Mary went into mourning and remained in widow’s clothes until her own death in 1882. She gave some of her White House finery to family members. Her cousin, Elizabeth Todd Grimsley, received this purple velvet ensemble. In 1916 Grimsley’s son, John, sold the ensemble to Mrs. Julian James for the Smithsonian’s First Ladies Collection.

John Grimsley attributed this dress to a “seamstress of exceptional ability” who “made nearly all of Mrs. Lincoln’s gowns.” Although he mistook her name as “Ann,” he most likely was referring to Elizabeth Keckly.

The Civil War made it particularly important that the ceremonial functions of the administration appear dignified and competent. This public image helped calm domestic critics and reassure foreign governments, especially England and France, which were being courted by the Confederacy. The Lincolns faced the challenge of maintaining proper decorum without appearing self-indulgent when so many were sacrificing so much. Their background made this task even more difficult, as they had to overcome eastern stereotypes of “uncultured” westerners.

Mary Lincoln took her role as first lady very seriously. Some newspapers portrayed her as “the republican queen,” elegant and admirable at public occasions. Others criticized her for conspicuous consumption in time of war and sacrifice. Although she came from a genteel Kentucky family, she was the wife of “the rail splitter,” and many people expected her to embarrass the nation with uncouth western manners.

Bequest of Mrs. Julian James, 1923

Culture: American

Date: 1861-1862

Material: Velvet, lace, satin

What girl doesn’t love a look that easily transitions from day to night?! I did notice that the color of the dress in the photos taken by The Smithsonian look a little off so I went digging. 

It is more of a rich purple than that heinous electric color, we won’t blame the dress, no one looks good in such intense light. Also, it hurts my heart that the sleeves on the afternoon bodice are very noticeably replacements. 


Tea Gown, House of Worth

France, 1910

Met Museum

Every one knows that a tea-gown is a hybrid between a wrapper and a ball dress. It has always a train and usually long flowing sleeves; is made of rather gorgeous materials and goes on easily, and its chief use is not for wear at the tea-table so much as for dinner alone with one’s family. It can, however, very properly be put on for tea, and if one is dining at home, kept on for dinner. Otherwise a lady is apt to take tea in whatever dress she had on for luncheon, and dress after tea for dinner. One does not go out to dine in a tea-gown except in the house of a member of one’s family or a most intimate friend. One would wear a tea-gown in one’s own house in receiving a guest to whose house one would wear a dinner dress. 

Emily Post, Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home, 1922.


One of the things I absolutely LOVE about OTGW is the array of historical costumes that the characters wear! To my eye, the garments span the years between about 1650 and 1910. You have:

• Lorna and Auntie Whispers in staid Puritan garments and hoods (mid-to-late 17th century)

• The Tavern Folk in mid-to-late 18th-century clothing and wigs

• Marguerite Grey and Quincy Endicott in French Rococo and Georgian styles, respectively (I love that they make an interior design joke in this chapter!)

• Beatrice (in her human form) in a distinctly Regency style dress (circa 1790s-1810s)

• Miss Langtree, Jimmy Brown and the animal students in late-19th/early-20th century styles (note Miss Langtree’s Gibson Girl hairdo)

• The riverboat frogs in the dandy duds of the early 20th century

How utterly delightful!

anonymous asked:

do you have any blogs/posts about period fashions?

We have a few links that might be of service!

Blogs, you ask?

  • costumehistory: History of Fashion and Costume throughout the centuries. (thanks, anon!)
  • fashionsfromhistory: Historical Fashions From The Past
  • ornamentedbeing. (thanks, anon!)
  • ravensquiffles: Goth, dressmaker, birdwatcher, lover of graveyards, churches, cathedrals and all things Victorian. (thanks, anon!)
  • fashioninhistory: A blog that showcases the works of designers from the 1700’s to the 21st century. (thanks, anon!)
  • historicalfashion: A blog posting historical fashion garments, portraits, or drawings from the Middle Ages to the 1950s, and some special exceptions for later dates. This includes photographs, explanation of the garment, and historical details. Long live the past!
  • mimic-of-modes: What it says on the tin.
  • howpeoplelived: This is a blog all about social history and the weird stuff that used to fly, from customs to costumes. I’ll try to cover historical themes from all over the world.
  • fripperiesandfobs: Pictures of costumes, both historic and modern.
  • 18thcenturyfashion: The fragments that are left to us in paintings and antiques, how we view it in film and popular culture and anything else that catches my eye.
  • damesalamode: Historic Ladies in Fashion- fashion plates from the 18th and early 19th centuries.
  • the-vintage-dress: This blog is where I express my love of vintage dresses.
  • awesomefashions: Cool fashions; all time periods.
  • defunctfashion: Historic Fashion and Exceptional Recreations
  • yeoldefashion: Pictures from fashion history.
  • oldrags: Fashion history blog (Favorite decades: 1910’s, 1800’s, 1870’s)
  • omgthatdress: A blog for fashion and history.
  • hatsfromhistory: I love hats. Especially historical hats. If I think they are beautiful, unusual, or interesting I’ll put them up here.
Not Tumblr (Still Awesome):

Thank you for your question!



South-East Asia/East Asia

1. Thailand (1905) 2. Cambodia (1928) 3. Laos (1930) 4. Indonesia-Bali (1935) 5. Malaysia (Peranakan) 1930s 6. Indonesia-Java (1940) 7. Vietnam (1930) 8. China (1930s) 9. Korea 10. Japan (1930s).

I have spent a fair bit of time in South-East Asia over the past year and got a little curious about the region’s (and East Asia’s) clothing history.  As in India, almost all the countries of the region went though a process of evolving a national dress (also X).  As in India there are regional variations.

While by no means definitive, a look at some of the clothing for women in the region in the period 1920s-1940s (bar pic 1 which is 1900s in order to show what I think is the chang kben - it seems to have a kachcham aka the tying of the cloth between the legs as in the dhoti).

Roughly a sheath like or tubular lower garment is common in SE Asia. In Laos and Thailand this is the sinh.  Additionally in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia a dhoti like garment (sampot or chang kben) was in use.The upper cloth which can cover the breasts and also the shoulders is common and generally an elaborate weave or ikat.

In Malaysia and Indonesia the lower garment is the sarung, The addition of a blouse is common and widespread aka the kebaya (X). In Malaysia it is more commonly known as the baju-kurung (X). While woven cloth and of course ikat is common you see a lot of batik. 1885 picture here. The kebaya encim of the Nyonya are also derived from this (X).

I didn’t have space (tumblr!) to put in the Philippines which had a number of Spanish and American influences on the native costume but there are some examples here of the baro’t saya (the saya being similar to the sarung) -the butterfly sleeves are very characteristic of the costume (X, X).

The hanfu is generally claimed as the origin of clothing styles in East Asia. While many of the clothing styles in the region are said to derive from the crossed collar style of the hanfu, personally I think that even with borrowings clothing tends to be quite distinct and specific and influenced by geography and culture.

In Vietnam the ao dai was common. There is actually an excellent chart on Vietnam’s historical clothing available. Like in Korea and Japan, there are Chinese influences on the clothing.

The qipao/cheongsam is seen as distinctly Chinese in origin. It is in fact a Manchu garment. Early versions were closer to the changshan (per Eileen Chang the changhsan was adapted by educated women) before becoming the very fitted version we are more familiar with. In fact the loose version was more commonly used in daily life. There are plenty of resources on  traditional Chinese clothing, largely on the qipao in the 20th century (X, X, X).

I think the costumes of Mongolia at this time also had distinct Manchu influences.

The hanbok has a jacket (jeogori) and a skirt (chima). The way colours are combined is quite specific for the hanbok while the jeogori underwent a number of variations with the short bodice more common in the early 20th century. Because of the length variations possible with the chima, the reformed shortened hanbok was quite popular in early 20th century Korea (X).

The kimono (and yukata) is again well known and extensively documented. In the 30s the drape of the garment seems to have remained unchanged with modifications in fabric and print. In the pic here (No 10) it is worn with a haori.  In fact western outerwear like jackets and coats could be easily worn with most SE/East Asian clothing.

As far as I can see it is only the sarung-kebaya and the baju-kurung (and perhaps the summer yukata, X) that remain in everyday use, the rest appear to be worn more for special occasions.

My favourite of the costumes is the hanbok but truth is each has its special history and charm and there has always been a good bit of thought behind the evolution of each, especially in the early 20th century. Its been great to be able to see them on the streets and in the museums.

Additional Links: X, X, X, X, X, X, X


Amazing historical costumer Kelsie Beaudoin (http:/eatsleepwritesew.blogspot.com) sent me an e-mail a few weeks ago asking if she could replicate my Cinderella gown from one of my fairytale portraits. Of course I said absolutely! I was thrilled she felt so inspired by my artwork… and even more so when she said she wanted to make it FOR me! What an incredible early birthday present! It just arrived, so I had to run out immediately and get some pictures in it!

“Sherlock throughout the Ages”

My second contribution to this month’s “Let’s Draw Sherlock” Challenge: Alternative Fashion Styles. Because I couldn’t decide which one to depict, I decided to draw a slideshow of 2000 years of fashion, all modelled by Sherlock. The periods I chose are:

  • Roman
  • Early Mediaeval (Age of Migration)
  • Anglo Saxon
  • Norman
  • Mediaeval
  • War of the Roses
  • Tudor
  • Elisabethan
  • Puritan
  • Restoration
  • Georgian
  • Regency
  • Victorian
  • Edwardian
  • WWI (officer)
  • 1920s
  • 1930s/40s
  • 1950s (Teddy Boy)
  • 1960s (Bondlock)
  • 1970s
  • 1980s/90s (Public School/Harrowlock)
  • Contemporary: Coat, Suit, Beepants, Sheetlock

Autumn’s Daily Corset Post:

One of my favorite corset myths is that Victorian women regularly had their lower ribs removed. I won’t go into how incredibly absurd this idea is, but instead will talk about where the myth may have begun.

Corsets need to be supported by vertical stays, which eventually were called ‘bones,’ because many were made with whalebone, a misnomer for baleen.In fact, boning is simply called “baleine” in France, even today’s steel boning.

While baleen molded to curves well with steam, it was also quite brittle, therefore the “bones” broke easily and needed to be removed and replaced. I believe that it is these bones that women removed and in the game of “historical telephone” it became “rib bones.”