How do I find information about fashion in history? What did people wear, when?


You have several options to answer this question, beyond the usual book and articles searches. 

Look at fashion or ladies' magazines from the period you are interested in:

  • Vogue (1911 - 2014, US edition) in print at TT500 V7 
  • Vogue Electronic Archive (1892 to current, US edition)
  • Vanity Fair (1914 - 1991) in print at AP2 V3
  • Chatelaine (1968-1981) on microfilm at Accession No. 1249
  • See other historic Newspapers and Popular Magazines, especially good for fashion advertisements

Use the Berg Fashion Library, which integrates images and text on world dress and fashion from 1600  to today. 

Use our other full text primary source databases, such as Defining Gender 1450-1910, Women and Social Movements In the United States 1600 - 2000, 19th Century UK Periodicals (contains a number of ladies' magazines), and many more

If you do search for books in the Books & Media catalogue, add the word 'ill' to your search, as this will return books with illustrations, such as the Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion (McPherson Reference GT507 E53 2005).  You can also add "social life" to your search, to make use of the subject heading "Social Life and Customs", which may be useful. 

There is also a subject heading "Clothing and Dress", for works on utilitarian aspects of clothing. Use the subject heading "Costume" for works on clothing as artistic objects, for the stage, screen, or special events. 

If you can't find what you're looking for, consult the Research Help Desk or your subject librarian.  


  • Last Updated Jun 20, 2022
  • Views 115
  • Answered By Tina Bebbington

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