Series: Dover Fashion and Costumes
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Dover Publications; New edition edition (April 11, 1996)
Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
Best Sellers Rank: #349,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books) #95 in Books > Crafts, Hobbies & Home > Antiques & Collectibles > Textiles & Costume #303 in Books > Arts & Photography > Fashion > History #357 in Books > Arts & Photography > Decorative Arts & Design > Textile & Costume
While this book may be a good place to start, it shouldn't be your only source. It includes no photos of primary sources, but instead only modern drawings of various sources. The "patterns" are highly simplified and are the author's guess as to a plausible construction of the garments, rather than a Janet Arnold-style examination of extant pieces. Take these "patterns" with a large grain of salt! However, I did think the section describing religious vestments is detailed and informative, since I knew almost nothing about that subject.Unfortunately, the section of this book covering the 15th century is much less detailed than those covering the 13th and 14th centuries, and only shows a few examples of the complicated and rapidly evolving fashions of that century, with no detailed "patterns". The fancy women's hats from the 15th century (which include the pointy and double-horned styles most people think of as "medieval") are only described briefly, with no actual construction information.This book is fine as far as it goes, but anyone wanting to do historical costuming will need much more detailed and accurate information. In particular, look for books with photographs of the actual paintings, sculpture, or illuminated manuscripts that show the clothing. Be careful when using books that only show a modern artist's rendering, as this one does.
Houston's book seems to be an excellent overview of the costume of the late medieval period. While it doesn't delve much into the actual construction of the clothing (i.e. patterns, stitching, etc.), it's quite good at giving a solid visual representation of the changes that occurred during these centuries, and as such I think it's a great starting point for study.As other reviewers have mentioned, the illustrations in here are redrawn from primary sources, so serious students of costuming will want to look at the primary sources whenever possible. Most will also need to seek out other sources to find better information on the construction of the clothing as well. But even so, this book is so inexpensively priced that I can't find too much to quibble about. Anyone, especially beginners, can buy it as an introduction and then move on to more detailed sources later.
Don't let the tiny price fool you! This slim volume is worth its weight in gold for anyone seeking to study and/or replicate period costume. Clothing for the common folk, royalty and the clergy are meticulously examined and discussed. The only lack is any discussion of undergarments, the book focusing only on tunics, surcoats, cloaks, shoes and head coverings. We are left to wonder what sort of leggings, stockings, drawers, petticoats, corsets or chemises they might have worn.It is easy to follow the development of line and cut through the centuries. Many detailed line drawings, along with some coloured plates give a good indication of details of construction and trim. It is easy to create patterns of any size from these drawings. Many drawings of the effigies of deceased monarchs and their consorts give an especially typical illustration of their favoured clothing. We can assume that the folk of their period followed their royalty's tastes during the reign and for some time afterward.There is a very good section on embroideried trims and fabrics, and some treatment of jewelry as well. The head coverings for women are especially well covered. Armor and chain mail, and some weaponry are well discussed and illustrated.A particularly interesting point is that the reigns of the monarchs of England, France and Germany are presented in table form for each century, complete w/ dates. Having this information compiled in this fashion is invaluable when one needs to be very accurate in construction of period garb, and may have not much more to go on than the name of the monarch of the time.
Easy to understand and with material suited for reenactors or makers of theatrical costume, the writer shows a sincerity for research in costume history that also makes this work suitable as a complementary book for serious studies. Illustrated with linedrawings and diagrams of construction. The diagrams are mostly based on conjecture and reconstruction work, as preserwed items of clothing from this period is extremely rare. Also shows armour and heraldry. Normally i dissaprove of illustations that are drawn after an original instead of reproducing them, but as the book was first printed in 1939, when photographic illustarations was a technical and economical luxury, and the writer gives the exact sources of the originals for the drawings, this book is an exeption for me. Normally I'm also sceptical towards reconstructions, but the writer is so straightforward about the fact that they are reconstructions, and by giving not only the result but the process of reasoning that leed to them, she gives the reader an opportunity to agre or dissagre with her. Personaly I'm inclined to agree with her reasoning as to how garments may have been constructed and why it looked and was done in that way.As an example she points out that techniques to bee considered must be wieved not from our present position but bee based on what was done in the preceeding period. What is a reasonable change? One may wish for a rewrite with all this sincerety and clear reasoning applied to more recent research material but untill that has been doone this is the book that provides many unusual and useful points of view on the subject.
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