< Medieval Costume

These are texts which I or the Shire own, and which are available for consultation by Shire members.

Historical costuming books

Please note that these are skewed towards middle-period England and France, since that's where my own costume research is focused.

Janet Arnold, Patterns of Fashion : The cut and construction of clothes for men and women c1560-1620 (1985) New York: Macmillan/Drama Book Publishers
The Elizabethan costumer's bible! Photographs and sketches of original costumes, with detail about construction and reconstructed patterns; details about stitching, etc, are particularly useful.

Iris Brooke, English Costume series, 5 volumes covering the early Middle Ages to the Renaissance. Generally, don't bother. No sources quoted, line drawings often inaccurate and misleading.

Dion Clayton Calthrop, English Costume Painted and Described (1907) London: Charles Black.
A rather long-winded and discursive account, with very little reference to primary sources. The colour plates are the author's own depictions; they are rather charming and atmospheric, and appear fairly accurate, but are not referenced.

C. Willett Cunnington, The Art of English Costume (1948) London: Collins
Cunnington reproduces some interesting medieval portraits and busts; his discussion is topical and almost philosophical, rather than practical.

Phyllis Cunnington, Costume in Pictures (1964) London: Dutton Vista
Not detailed, but good reproductions of contemporary artwork covering major trends in costume from Saxon to the early 20th century.

Mary G. Houston,Medieval Costume in England and France: the 13th, 14th and 15th Centuries, Volume 3 of A Technical History of Costume.(1939) London: Adam and Charles Black
An excellent and tightly-focused work; Houston redraws all her primary sources, in rather characteristic and very clear line-drawings, but she references the source and her depictions appear to be accurate. Her chapters on the construction of clothing in the various centuries are particularly useful, and include pattern diagrams drawn from extant examples.

Francis M. Kelly and Randolph Schwabe, A Short History of Costume and Armour, chiefly in England, vol 1 (1066-1485) (1931) London: Batsford
A reasonably detailed overview, with good reproductions of contemporary artwork. The drawings from statuary are particularly useful.

Carl Kohler, A History of Costume 1928 (1963) New York: Dover
Kohler reproduces some photographs of extant medieval clothing, but his drawings and reconstructed patterns are often a little suspect.

Stella Mary Newton, Fashion in the Age of the Black Prince: A study of the years 1340-1365 (1980) Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer
The text on 14th-century costume - meticulously researched and detailed, with excellent primary source material, both pictures and contemporary wardrobe records, etc. An invaluable book.

Herbert Norris, Costume and Fashion (1924)New York: Dutton and Co
Norris is notorious for redrawing all his pictures, often inaccurately; he gives a great deal of detail, some of which he apparently makes up. His brief historical contextualisations are useful, and some of his depictions are accurate. A source to be used with great suspicion.

Margaret Scott, A Visual History of Costume: The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries (1986) London: Batsford
Mostly contemporary portraits, illustrations and statuary, with brief notes pointing out characteristic features of the costume. A wonderful resource.

Nevil Truman, Historic Costuming (1936) London: Pitman
A very brief overview from the ancient Greek to the 19th century, designed for theatrical costuming, but concise and detailed. No primary sources, but the line drawings are clear and well labelled. Seems reasonably accurate despite the lack of referencing; the characteristic silhouettes for each century, given at the end of the book, are very useful for orienting newcomers.

SCA costuming manuals

Heloise Malett of Wortham (Helen McCarthy),A Manual of Men's Medieval Costume Construction and A Manual of Women's Medieval Costume Construction (1978)Great Britain: Pentagram Press (1990).
Scale patterns and line drawings based on referenced picture or portrait sources from 10th to 15th centuries. Construction is simple and depictions accurate. These books got the Shire's costuming off the ground.

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