(This is an entry in the Annotated Bibliography.)
*Arnold, Janet. Patterns of Fashion 2: Englishwomen’s dresses and their construction c. 1860-1940. New York: Drama Book Specialists/Publishers, 1993.
First published 1966. Along with the others in Arnold’s series, this is an extraordinary work of scholarship. Arnold’s beautiful and highly detailed schematic drawings and graphed pattern diagrams, along with her highly informative text, give detailed and extremely accurate information about the construction of specific historical garments. The background information on costume, and the general construction information, are also quite valuable. The garments included tend to be fashionable in nature, rather than ordinary or work-oriented, some periods are less well-represented than others, and there is very little information about undergarments or accessories, but ultimately, there is only so much that fit into any book. This volume includes excellent introductory information; details about the history of pattern-drafting, tailoring, and dressmaking from the book’s period of focus; “A Practical Guide to the Use of the Patterns;” and patterns for numerous gowns, including some by famous designers (see below for further details). Altogether, the usefulness and accuracy of the book can hardly be overstated. This book, along with others by Janet Arnold, is widely recommended by costumers both historical and theatrical. I wholeheartedly recommend Arnold’s books. The book is instructional. The images are monochrome. It contains a bibliography of primary sources. I personally own this book, and would highly recommend it.
Also by Janet Arnold:
- Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen’s dresses and their construction c. 1660-1860
- (Arnold’s other books in this series focus on earlier periods, which I have thus far not focused on, and I have therefore not used or reviewed those books, but I know them to be widely considered reliable sources.)
- A Handbook of Costume
Note: Famous designers whose works are patterned in this book include Lucien Lelong (c. 1920-2 day dress and jacket, pages 70 and 71), Madeleine Vionnet (c. 1918 evening dress, pages 68-69; c. 1920 afternoon dress and c. 1925 evening dress, pages 72 and 73; c. 1921-2 evening dress, pages 74 and 75; c. 1929-30 evening dress, pages 78 and 80) and Schiparelli (1938 evening dress and 1940 dinner dress, pages 86 and 87).