Author: Nancy Bradfield
Age/Audience: Those in the “fashion know” or with a Google window open
Genre/Style: Nonfiction fashion history, illustrations/diagrams
Read If You Like: History of fashion, change in fashion over time
This non-fiction, period illustrated, detail oriented book is not aimed at a mass-market. Instead Bradfield is speaking to people who already have an assumed base understanding in fashion/textiles, most notably the specific vocabulary used in the time periods covered. The book is filled with illustrations, though, to support understanding – but anyone who is unsure what a hooped petticoat or a crinoline might be is advised to have Google open on the side.
For steampunk enthusiasts this book offers itself up to many uses. For costume design, the detailed diagrams and illustrations offer inspiration and creation considerations, giving creators options to pick and choose pieces from the whole Victorian era to match their need. For researchers and writers Bradfield has created a one-stop-shop for vocabulary and description of period-correct dress for women (with a few nods to men’s fashion, too). Also particularly important for writers, Bradfield keeps styles separated by year. While many people view Victorian costume as all one style, there were a wide variety of fashions by year, just as we have today. One of the most notable fluctuations is in the size and detail of the bustle, which comes through both in the illustrations and Bradfield’s commentary.
A fantastic and detailed resource for writers and researchers who want to use correct fashions and vocabulary.