AB: Johnston – Nineteenth Century Fashion in Detail

(This is an entry in the Annotated Bibliography.)

*Johnston, Lucy. Nineteenth Century Fashion in Detail. London: V&A Publishing, 2009.

This wonderful specimen offers beautiful close-up photographs of garments in the Victoria & Albert museum collection. The garments generally represent the height of fashion and the pinnacle of exquisite workmanship, so they certainly do not document ordinary people, but the fashion and construction details revealed are fascinating and informative. Each close-up, full-color photograph is accompanied by a detailed schematic drawing of the full garment, and thorough information about the garment and its relationship to the fashions of its day. The book is organized thematically rather than by period, which lends itself well to the extreme focus on the specific details of a relatively limited number of garments. As a historical overview it would be confusing, but as an enticing record of garment intricacies it is extraordinarily helpful as well as inspirational. It is also interesting, and unusual, in that it combines men’s clothing and women’s, specifically showing instances where fashions crossed gender lines. This magnificent book is highly recommended for anyone studying the clothing of the nineteenth century, as are the others in the “Fashion in Detail” series. It is not instructional. It contains many full-color images. It contains a further reading list. I personally own this book, and would highly recommend it.

Note for 1830s research: Garments from the late 1820s through late 1830s are shown on pages 50-51 (gown from 1827-29, using 1770s taffeta), 76-77 (gowns from 1830-34 and 1838-40), 78-79 (slippers from 1830s-40s), 80-81 (gown from around 1830), 104-105 (gown from 1838-40), 172-73 (gown from 1836-38), and 174-175 (gown from 1838-40).

Other books in this series include:

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