Category Archives: Clothing Research Resources

Annotated Bibliography Updates

Just a quick update to announce that I’ve gone through my Annotated Bibliography to add 13 more entries (bringing it up to a count of 107!) and to add quick annotations to all of the entries on the main page. Now, on the main page, each entry has the basic citation and also a brief note about whether the book is recommended, recommended for the pictures, recommended only if there’s nothing else available, or not recommended. The negative notes generally contain a bit of extra information about why I don’t think the book is worth looking at.

There are a lot of recommended books on the list – because there are a lot of great books on historical costume out there – but hopefully my Annotated Bibliography can be some help in determining which books fit a given subject and are worth tracking down. Most of the recommended books have more detailed annotations included in linked posts of their own, for more details on content and usage.

For my own purposes, I find the A.B. useful when I’m researching a new period or a specific topic, or when I have a bit of extra cash and want to figure out what book to buy next. Sadly, some of the books I desperately wish to acquire – especially those by Norah Waugh – are consistently very expensive, and out of my price range. Someday! In the meantime, that is what libraries are for.

If you’d like to see the updates and peruse the reviews, visit the Annotated Bibliography page.

Sewing in 1912

Guides for 1912 Reproduction Sewing

Dressmaking & Ladies’ Tailoring Manuals from c 1912

Tailoring Manuals from c 1912 (contents entirely or primarily for men)

 Miscellaneous Manuals on Sewing, Mending, and Laundering

Back to the site index for Researching 1912 Clothes and Making or Faking Them.

Clothing in New Mexico and the Southwest circa 1912

Was Clothing Different in New Mexico? A Brief Analysis

Certainly, clothing was different in New Mexico; clothing everywhere was subject to regional variation, especially in places with substantial cultural intersections. But in the course of my research, I found that clothing in New Mexico around 1912 was not as markedly different from clothing elsewhere in the United States than I had expected. In the local photographs and newspaper advertisements I surveyed, New Mexican men are often seen wearing three-piece suits, though working men sometimes lack a jacket, and can sometimes be seen without waistcoats as well (though this was considered somewhat indecent). Likewise, New Mexican women are typically seen in dresses and separates like those worn elsewhere in the United States. Both sexes seem to have kept up with east coast fashions to whatever degree they could afford it, with simpler and less modish clothing for people with low incomes.

There’s a common belief that women in the West “must” have worn corsets less than women in cities back east, because it was too hot, and corsets were not practical. But in my experience, for women of a, shall we say, buxom variety, it can actually be more comfortable to wear a corset, with evenly distributed bottom-up support, rather than a modern bra, with support coming in from straps which hang from the shoulders and a narrow band around the chest. Historically, corsetry is not synonymous with tight-lacing, and it need not be painful, dangerous, or even particularly uncomfortable. I have personally worn a corset while in the heat working outside, and it made very little difference, as long as it was made of natural fibers (which breathe), fit well, and was laced properly, not too tight or too loose. So, Western women could have worn corsets. Did they?

My survey of early twentieth century photographs of people in New Mexico and the Southwest indicates that corsets were worn with roughly the same incidence in this region as elsewhere in the United States. Which is to say, they were worn by most women, most of the time, with the exception of some elderly women, some very poor women, and women otherwise socio-culturally outside of any concerns about Euro-American fashion. In the latter category, photographs of Native Americans taken in the early twentieth century often show people in what appears to be the traditional dress of their people, or, in some cases, a romanticized version of traditional dress; unsurprisingly, in these images, none appear to be wearing corsets. But among Euro-American and Hispanic women, the corset appears to have been as common in New Mexico as anywhere else.

This is not to say that clothing in New Mexico was the same as anywhere else – regional variations played a role, more so than they do today, even. Regional variations are particularly marked among the lower rungs of society; unfortunately, these are also consistently the least documented parts of society. It is difficult to find pictures of working class people, subsistence farmers, and the like, especially pictures in their everyday working clothes rather than their Sunday best. Because of the comparative scarcity of such images, it’s difficult to make a broad analysis – the sample size is too small. Hopefully, I will be able to increase my pool of study material and do further research on this subject.

As a general framework, though, my research so far indicates that it is reasonable to assume that clothing in New Mexico circa 1912 was, for many people, much like  clothing in the rest of the United States, particularly among the upper and middle classes of both Anglo-American and Hispanic descent.

Image Resources for Clothing in the Southwest

NM Newspaper Articles About and Advertisements for Clothing

Hispanic/Latino Clothing in the Southwest circa 1912

  • 1912 Project: New Mexico, a Pinterest Board of mine, with a collection of images and links, including many of people who appear to be of Hispanic descent and of people known to be of Hispanic descent (such as photographs of the Amador family of Las Cruces).

Native American Clothing in the Southwest circa 1912

Clothing in the Southwest in Other/Various Time Periods

Note: if it has an asterisk*, there is a tutorial, how-to, or pattern on the other side of the link.

Back to the site index for Researching 1912 Clothes and Making or Faking Them.

Men’s Clothing circa 1912

Overview

While ladies’ fashion was changing rapidly during the decade of the 1910s, menswear changed very little. One small change did prove to be significant in the long term though: increasingly, gentlemen were dinner or tuxedo jackets instead of tailcoats for less formal evening occasions. The number of occasions for which a tuxedo was sufficiently formal increased during the 1910s and in the following decades until, today, black tie and tails, much less white tie and tails, is required an an extremely limited number of occasions, for an extremely narrow band of the population (high society, fine dining waiters, and cabaret performers, mostly), and the tuxedo is generally thought of as the height of formality.

Three-piece suits and variations thereof were the norm for men around 1912. Waistcoats typically lacked collars, and were cut quite high, leaving very little of the shirt bosom exposed on either side of the necktie. Shirt collars were very high and stiff, often made to be detachable so that they could be readily cleaned or replaced, since they soiled much more quickly then the rest of the shirt. Morning dress with a cutaway coat and striped trousers could be worn for formal daytime occasions, but by this time, the practice of wearing formal morning dress was already more common in Britain than in the United States.

While menswear for centuries has tended to change slowly, it is more variable than it might first appear. Even within the circa 1912 period, there was a great deal of variation – many elements of the suit, shirt, collar, tie, hat, coat, and accessories could be personalized to suit the owner’s tastes, within in a certain range of parameters. Jacket lapels could vary in width and proportion, jacket length varied, shirt collar height and proportion varied, and hats were available in an almost inconceivable array of shapes and sizes. Stripes and other patterns were worn sometimes, especially for daywear and casual sportswear. Sportswear could be extremely colorful, in fact, and dressing gowns (robes) were positively flamboyant.

Working class and rural farming men would still have been likely to own three-piece suits, to wear for “best,” though some men at this point did elect not to wear waistcoats all the time, and when working hard, any man might remove his jacket. In polite company, a man did not sit down to dinner in his shirtsleeves, and lacking both waistcoat and jacket in front of a woman was suspect behavior.

General Resources for Men’s Clothing c 1912

How to Fake 1912 Men’s Clothing on the Cheap

If you need a 1912 man’s costume in a hurry, without much sewing, and inexpensively, your best bet is going to be a thirft store suit. There were various cuts of suit popular at this time period, so your odds of finding something workable in the right size are high. First, look at pictures of c. 1912 suits to train your eye for what to look for. Next, make sure you know your chest and waist measurements so you can easily check if a suit on the rack might fit you (you can check length by hanging it against you). Remember to look for natural fibers! Synthetic fibers like polyester are not only inaccurate, but extremely uncomfortable to wear (especially 100% polyester); they’re very hot and don’t breathe, plus they stain easily.

When you’re looking for a suit, look for a jacket with square, properly fitting shoulders, and a fitted or slightly loose-fitting but tailored shape and fit. It can single-breasted or double-breasted, though single-breasted was more common. Lapels generally tended to be around medium size, though some men wore their lapels wide, so that’s an acceptable option too. Lapels were cut quite far up at the time, tending to end high on the chest rather than at waist level. Jacket length could vary, but remember that this shouldn’t be a long zoot suit style (though there are some baggy, striped suits of the time that stylistically lean in that direction!). Trousers can be medium to loose fitting, but should taper to a narrower ankle, even if only slightly. Overall, the suit should be slightly baggy, but not too much – it’s a balancing act.

If you can’t find a three-piece suit with a waistcoat, it’s acceptable to have a mismatched waistcoat/vest, made from a different but harmonizing material. The waistcoat should fit snugly – much more so than the rest of the suit. The waistcoats typically lack lapels, and are cut with a high, tight V opening. The bottom edge comes to two closely placed points at the front. Vest materials can be livelier than other suit materials typically are – stripes were popular.

Shirts were typically very high-collared, so look for the highest collars you can find, or, if you are feeling adventurous, you could even try removing a shirt collar and adding a homemade (even a paper!) collar, which is accurate. The cut of the collar could almost totally hide the knot of the necktie, depending on its shape. Neckties were highly variable in color and pattern, but they were usually cut nearly straight and tied with small knots.

Don’t forget a hat! In 1912, a decent man simply didn’t leave the house without a hat. Look through pictures to see appropriate styles, and look for something similar. If you are looking to be costumed as someone actively laboring, who would not be wearing a three-piece suit, look for pants cut along the lines mentioned above, and wear them with collar-less shirt and suspenders, preferably the kind of button onto the pants rather than clip on. And don’t forget that hat!

History of Menswear & Tailoring

  • History: Setting the Precedent, a series of articles on the history of menswear, particularly formal menswear, at The Black Tie Guide: A Gentleman’s Guide to Evening Wear (Second Edition).

Suits (daywear)

Formalwear (morning dress, tuxedo/dinner jackets, tails)

Hats & Outerwear

Undergarments

Working Clothes (farming, heavy labor, servants)

  • 1912 Project: Hard at Work, a Pinterest Board of mine, with a collection of images and links, specifically of people in working clothes of some variety.

Tailoring Manuals & Guides (see also Sewing in 1912)

Note: if it has an asterisk*, there is a tutorial, how-to, or pattern on the other side of the link.

Back to the site index for Researching 1912 Clothes and Making or Faking Them.

Women’s Clothing circa 1912

Overview

Changing Trends in Ladies’ Fashion

The years 1911 and 1912 represent a transitional in-between period in women’s fashion, similar to the late 1830s and the late 1860s (the years on either end of the full-skirted, drop-shouldered, natural-waisted period). The aesthetic of the 1890s and 1900s was one of voluptuous grace, with delicate materials and delicate colors, while the aesthetic during World War I was more modern and more practical, with a shorter, fuller skirt; an unfitted and slightly elevated waistline; and a great popularity for suits and separates. Examining the two aesthetics side by side, the difference is extreme, though they are separated by only four or five years. In between the two lies a transitional period sharing commonalities with styles on either side, but also with unique elements of its own, in particular the slim silhouette known as the “hobble skirt,” which could at its extremes be narrow enough to limit the length of a woman’s steps, essentially “hobbling” her. This trend lasted only between 1911 and 1914; in 1910 skirts were still falling in a softly flaring bell shape, while by 1915 they had shortened and widened, offering wartime women a practical, modernized style.

The rapid progression of fashions between 1909 and 1915 was essentially the midpoint of fashion’s transformation from what is considered “nineteenth century” to what is considered “twentieth century.” The loosened waist of the 1910s became the straight, dropped waist of the 1920s, and the skirts that shortened just two or three inches around 1915 became the short skirts of the 1920s, complete with a shocking display of ankle and calf, occasionally even a glimpse of knee. World War I influenced this massive transition, in terms of women’s habits of living and need for practicality in dress, as well as in terms of necessitating changes in attire due to wartime austerity measure which required, among other things, the steel that would have gone into the manufacture of corsets.

The Look of 1911-1912

The silhouette was slim, with a long, narrow skirt; a sleek or slightly raised waistline; and preferably an enormous hat. Dresses were still popular, but suits and other separates were very common by this point. Many garments advertised in Sears Catalogs and the like were skirts and blouses or shirtwaists; separates could be very fine and high quality, or they could serve the same purpose and be simpler and quite inexpensive. Society ladies wore shirtwaists and skirts; so did shopgirls and farmers’ daughters going to town.

General Resources for Women’s Clothing c 1912

How to Fake 1912 Women’s Clothing on the Cheap

If you need a 1912 woman’s costume in a hurry, without much sewing, and inexpensively, your best bet is going to be a blouse or shirtwaist and a skirt. Look for an ankle-length or full-length, straight, narrow skirt – this silhouette was also popular in the 1970s, which can help with thrift store costuming (but look out for hot, plasticky polyester). 1970s and 1980s blouses can provide the top half of the ensemble, but you want to look for thin, potentially even sheer, cotton or linen (and rayon or blends could do in a pinch). Look for a blouse without puffy sleeves – this is a period where slightly sloping shoulders are ideal, and puffy shoulders were not the look of 1912. Look at period blouses first, to get an idea of the look. Remember that if buttons look too plasticky, you can easily remove and replace them, even with limited sewing skills.

Don’t forget to top off your ensemble with some kind of headwear – respectable women simply didn’t leave the house without hats in 1912. Large hats were popular at the time – the tutorials below can help you turn a $5 party store hat into a passable 1910s shape waiting for some decorations – even a scarf or piece of sheer fabric or wide ribbon wrapped around and pinned or stitch in place with a fluffy shape can help to give the look of the period.  Gloves ought to be worn outdoors, so if you can find a pair that look roughly right, excellent. For shoes, simple black or brown or tan “granny boots” will do, or low-heeled Oxfords – these are conveniently quite trendy in 2012, and are often perfect for 1912.

These basic elements can go a long way for creating the look of 1912, and if you work to create 1912-style hair as well, you can really look the part. Keep in mind that, in 1912, you almost certainly would have been wearing a corset – even most suffragettes wore corsets. The shape of the corset would change your silhouette, how your clothes fit, and how you stand and move. The ideal figure of the period had slim, sleek hips and a low, gently rounded mono-bosom, assisted if need be by ruffles and padding. The high, out-thrust shape of a modern bra looks incongruous with these styles – you might consider a sports bra or a bra-top camisole to get a more period look.

Trends & Changing Fashions

Day Dresses

Separates (skirts, blouses, shirtwaists, jackets)

  • 1912 Project: Separates, a Pinterest Board of mine, with a collection of images and links.
  • Arizona Statehood Centennial Outfit (dress diary), by Jordan Newhouse, at her blog Heavenly Princess. Details about creating a reproduction 1912 ensemble, including shirtwaist, skirt, princess slip, and more, comparing research to reproduction pieces.
  • 1912-14 Custom Drafted Skirt in 3, 5 and 7 Gores, from a primary source, at Tudor Links.
  • *A Nineteen Teens Pleated Skirt, by Katherine C-G at Koshka-the-Cat. A straightforward tutorial for creating a skirt of the fuller style that became popular following the trend for slim “hobble” skirts, circa 1911-1913. This style is slightly later than most skirt shapes of 1912, but ladies’ suit styles were sometimes shaped like this. The construction information here is very straightforward and, since the skirt is simply cut in rectangles, it can be made without a pattern, by a relatively inexperienced sewist.
  • Two Edwardian Blouses with Cutting Layouts, c. 1910, from a primary source, at Tudor Links.
  • A Nineteen Teens Middy Blouse, by Katherine C-G at Koshka-the-Cat. Like the skirt at the same site, this design is a couple years too late for 1912, but it is nevertheless a good resource, with many detailed construction photographs informative about creating blouses and shirtwaists for the period.

Formalwear (dinner dresses, evening gowns)

Shoes & Hosiery

  • 1912: Accessories and Jewelry, a Pinterest Board of mine, with a collection of images and links, which includes shoes and hosiery as well.
  • Edwardian Shoe Candy, an article by Lauren Reeser at American Duchess, with information and images about 1900s and 1910s shoes.

Hats & Other Millinery

Outerwear

Accessories & Jewelry

  • 1912: Accessories and Jewelry, a Pinterest Board of mine, with a collection of images and links, which includes shoes and hosiery as well.
  • Help Bling Me, by Kendra Van Cleave at Demode. An article about selecting jewelry to wear with a reproduction 1912 evening gown.

Corsets & Brassieres

  • 1912 Project: High Bust Corsets, a Pinterest Board of mine, with a collection of images and links of/about corsetry, focusing on corsets cut higher than the nearly underbust shape that was the most common style. This less common style provided more support for the bust than an underbust corset and brassiere or camisole.
  • *1911 – All the Steps in One Place by Jo at Bridges on the Body, a table of contents for her detailed series on constructing a reproduction c1911 corset, including extensive fitting information.
  • *1910s Corset Pattern and Instructions by Jennifer Thompson at Festive Attyre, republished for all to see after having been originally published in two parts by the author at Your Wardrobe Unlock’d, a fee-based subscription site.

Undergarments

Hair & Cosmetics

  • 1912 Project: Hair and Millinery, a Pinterest Board of mine, with a collection of images and links.
  • Gibson Tuck by Samantha at Locks of Elegance, a photo tutorial for a simple hairstyle popular just before and during the period in question.

Working Clothes (farming, heavy labor, servants)

  • 1912 Project: Hard at Work, a Pinterest Board of mine, with a collection of images and links, specifically of people in working clothes of some variety.

High Fashion / Haute Couture

  • Les Createurs de la Mode (1910) by L. Roger-Miles, a digitized primary source book in French about the process of buying ladies’ fashions from Parisian couturiers, including many images, available free for download at the Internet Archive.
  • Les Robes de Paul Poiret (1908) by Paul Iribe and Paul Poiret, a digitized primary source book in French filled with couture gown designs by Paul Poiret, the height of fashion.

The Realities of Buying, Making, & Wearing Clothes

Dressmaking Manuals & Guides (see also Sewing in 1912)

Note: if it has an asterisk*, there is a tutorial, how-to, or pattern on the other side of the link.

Back to the site index for Researching 1912 Clothes and Making or Faking Them.

Using Pinterest for Historical Costume Research

I like to describe Pinterest as “the great cork board in the sky.” I started out using it the way many people do, as a virtual idea board – an easy way to collect images and ideas for fashion I like, sewing tutorials I find interesting, home decorating ideas, and recipes. I installed the Pinmarklet to my bookmarks bar and pinned cute sweaters and tasty treats as I prowled the blogosphere. Before long, I also started pinning images of historical costumes, and I realized that Pinterest offered a brilliant way to collect research images, allowing me to peruse them visually, while organizing them by period and theme – while maintaining a perpetual link back to the original source.  It doesn’t matter how many times something gets re-pinned – it will always link back to its original web source.

This is why I get cranky when people say that Pinterest is just the new Tumblr. At the risk of offending, I must say that I absolutely loathe Tumblr. There’s some good stuff on Tumblr blogs sometimes, but there’s a whole lot of plagiarism, copyright infringement, and images that don’t lead back to the original source. I keep encountering this aggravating phenomenon as I go to re-pin a lovely extant dress… and discover that it comes from a pretty-pretty-stuff Tumblr, with no source information to be found. What museum collection is the dress in? When is it from? Are there alternate views or further information somewhere? I hate not knowing these things. So I often either skip the image, or spend a bit of time tracking down the original source. An image without a proper source link isn’t very useful, or very respectful to the museum that owns both the garment and the copyright on the photograph.

My Pinterest Board for Mid 19th Century Skirt Supports

But with properly sourced images and all the relevant details in the text blurb, Pinterest makes for an outstanding historical costume research tool. You can pin by period, and then break it down into specific garment types or even projects you’re working on. You can look at a collection of themed images together, and you can also click through to the original source to get more information. While the copyright legalities of Pinterest haven’t yet been hashed out, it seems like an excellent example of fair use, one that gives full credit (and free advertising!) to the museums, auction sites, and private collections that own the beautiful clothes we’re interested in researching. I don’t like to save online images on my computer for research use, because no matter how long I make the file name, I’ll always be lacking some information, and it will always be a multi-step process to get from the image on my computer back to the webpage where I found it.

Since Pinterest can be such a fantastic tool for historical costume research, and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the logistics of how to best use it for that purpose, I thought I’d write up a how-to of sorts. This is what works for me, and perhaps it will work for others as well.

Some of My Historical Costume Boards

The historical costume section of my Pinterest is primarily organized chronologically by period. First, I have some general history-of-costume boards (e.g., historical stitching details, historical textiles), then it’s on to Costume: 16th Century, Costume: 17th Century, Costume: 18th Century, and then 19th Century Quilted Petticoats. Wait, what? I do more with 19th century costume than with earlier periods, so it makes sense for me to subdivide the century into shorter periods. But quilted petticoats cross multiple periods, and I’m interested in them over multiple periods, so I gave them their own, broader board. Next up we get into specific periods – Regency, Early Romantic Era, and then a number of 1830s-specific boards. Again, this reflects the focus of what I study. There are more boards, and more specificity, to subjects I’m doing more research for. In general, when I find that a particular board is broad in subject matter and has more than a hundred pins, I start sub-dividing. I like being able to find what I’m looking for!

This results in a lot of pin-boards. I wish Pinterest allowed for nesting of boards! It would be nice to be able to have, for example, a “Romantic Era” category, that within it had all my various subdivisions by decade and garment type and project. But I keep my many boards fairly well under control by keeping them carefully organized in a way that makes sense to me, and naming the boards so that I can find what I’m looking for as easily as possible while pinning. All of my major historical eras start with a heading of “Costume,” so they’re all together when I go to pin. The specific eras I’m working on, which are subdivided into many boards, start with a heading that’s time-specific: 1830s, 1912 Project, and Mid 19C (for mid 19th century). If your costuming interests are less broad than mine, this part of the organizing process will be simpler for you.

Re-Pinned Painting With a Dead Source Trail

Beware when re-pinning pretties – the images can be from anywhere, and for the sake of responsible pinning and useful research, it’s important to try to pin images from something resembling the original source. I love the dresses in Monet’s “Women in the Garden,” so when the above image turned up in my feed, I promptly re-pinned it to my “Costume: Transitional Bustle” board. But when I clicked through, wondering what museum actually owns this beautiful painting, I found that it had been pinned from a vintage clothing shop blog that used museum images, didn’t link back to the image sources, didn’t even mention what museums the images came from, and did this with posed photographs of extant costumes as well as with images of two-dimensional works of art.

That’s not just rude, it’s illegal. The above painting is in the public domain, so that means that  “slavish recreation” is likewise in the public domain. But no matter how old a costume is, it’s three-dimensional, so when a photograph is taken of it, the photographer – or, more likely, the museum who hired the photographer – owns the copyright on that photograph. Given that this particular blog was a commercial site for a shop, this makes the copyright infringement even more egregious. I don’t want to have anything to do with a site that’s infringing on copyright and not even attempting to give the source credit. So I copied the url for the picture, popped it into Google image search, and went looking for another place to get a copy of “Women in the Garden.?

Monet's "Women in the Garden" on WikiPaintings

I found it on WikiPaintings, which also informed me that the painting is in the public domain, because the artist died over 70 years ago. Museums tend to disagree with this interpretation of copyright law, but the courts consistently uphold it. (For more information, see my page on Copyright Issues.) Ideally, this page would also mention which museum currently holds the painting, but given the public domain status, I can let it slide. So I set about pinning this copy of the painting.

I entered the vital statistics, including style and genre information, into the text box, and selected the category “Mid 19th Century Genre Paintings and Portraits” to pin it to.

Then I added the detail that it was public domain – which I think is handy to know when I’m glancing through my pins – and added where I’d pulled the image from. If I were pinning from a museum, I’d also include the accession number, which is especially important to have since museums are continually changing their websites, and at some point the link to the original source could go dead. If that happens, I want it to be as easy as possible to find the painting, or dress, or pair of shoes that I’m looking for.

Now that I have all my details entered and my pin pinned, I can click “see my pin” and this is what I get. I also want to save this pin to my public domain costume images board, and to my transitional bustle era costume board, so I re-pin it to both, using the same text blurb.

But what about pinning directly from a museum? What about all of the bits and pieces to copy-paste? Does it really matter if it’s properly formatted and everything is right there? I certainly think so! I want all of the relevant details right there where I can see them, and I want to know what else there is on the museum website. So I have a particular system for pinning from museum websites, and it’s not nearly as time-consuming as you might think. I’ll show you my process with an example from a couple days ago.

My Reproduction Red Wool Cloak

Last year, I made a reproduction red wool cloak based very closely on the original depicted in Costume Close-Up. While I was working on it, and while I was writing up the documentation afterward, I bookmarked quite a few links to extant cloaks, articles about cloaks, and general information. A year later, only about half of those links still work. Sites have shut down or reorganized, museums have changed their online catalogs, and so forth.

But the other day when I went to make a Pinterest documentation board for my red wool cloak, I tracked things down again, and found more sources by way of a great article on the 18th Century Notebook – which I couldn’t pin directly, because it didn’t have any pictures, but which I gave credit to in my pins, because curating the internet is hard work, and the site deserves recognition.

 First things first, I created a new Pinterest board, specifically for this project/garment. Then I opened in tabs all of my cloak-related bookmarks, and my documentation post, which I knew had links to relevant things.

I started with the cloak in the Colonial Williambsurg collection that appears in Costume Close-Up, because it’s the one that mine is directly based on. I can’t show you the whole website, or a picture of this original cloak, because the image is copyrighted by Colonial Williamsburg, and I’d rather not infringe on that (which is why I’ve blurred out the thumbnail of the cloak in the pinning pictures below). When pinning an object from a museum collection, the first thing I do is highlight and copy the accession number, as you can see in the screen capture above-left.

Next, if the format of the page will cooperate, I highlight the item name or title, the date, and the place of origin. (Sometimes, I highlight other details along with these.) Highlight the text, but don’t copy it – when you click the “pin it” button, the Pinmarklet will automatically insert the highlighted text.

When the pinning box first opens, the copied text is weirdly formatted, and sometimes suffers from OBNOXIOUS ALL CAPS and  too   many  spaces. This drives me crazy, so I spend a few extra seconds fixing it.

Pins don’t have new-lines or paragraphs, so those will just turn into spaces. Double spaces. Yuck. I delete the new-lines and I format the text like this:                 “(Object), dated xxxx, (location of origin). (Museum) # xxxxxxxx.” Make sure to put a space between the # and the accession number, or Pinterest will treat it like a hash tag. If I’m including dimensions or other basic stats, I sometimes include those between the location the the museum information. If I’m quoting description from the museum, I put it in quotation marks (because that, my friends, is how we avoid plagiarism!), and if I’m adding comments of my own, I put them last.

For this pin, I swapped out the commas for semi-colons, to avoid confusion with the object’s name, which includes a comma. And I seem to have put a comma after the museum name. I do that sometimes. I never claimed to be perfectly consistent, now did I? Anyway – this copying and then highlighting approach means that I don’t have to type up much of the text in my blurb. I just reformat and add the museum name, plus whatever comments I might have, such as what page of a given book the object is featured on. For this pin, the text ended up reading:

Woman’s Cloak, red hooded; 1750-1810; England. Colonial Williamsburg, # 1953-968. Featured and patterned in ‘Costume Close-Up’ on pages 54-56 and color plate 2. This is the cloak that my reproduction is directly based on.

But what about pinning from a blog? And what about reproductions? Whenever I pin a reproduction, I write “Reproduction” (or “repro”) at the very beginning of the pin, to make it very clear that this isn’t an original. I also make sure to include the name of the blog it came from – because the person who made that garment deserves full credit.

Here we have a screencap from this very blog, taken as I pinned my reproduction cloak, the way I pin any repro from a blog. I highlighted the name of the garment/post, and then clicked “pin it.” When I reformat that text in the Pinmarklet, I add “reproduction” to the beginning, and include any other relevant details. Then I credit the blog, like so: “via Bygone Glamour.”
Voila!

The pin text for the cloak image now reads “Reproduction mid 18th to early 19th century red wool cloak, handsewn based on an original at Colonial Williamsburg. via Bygone Glamour.” Except that’s kind of awkward, because it’s my own blog – so after I took this demo screencap, I changed the text to read “via my blog, Bygone Glamour” at the end. When I pinned the second image, the side view, I simply copied and re-used the same text.

After prowling through cloak links and doing some pinning, this is what my new board looked like:

(There are copyright images included in the above, but they are teeny tiny, and essentially incidental, so they ought to fall under the heading of fair use.)

Pinterest is a wonderful tool for historical costume research, but to make full use of it, we have to be careful to include all the important details, especially the name of the museum or auction house or blog and the accession number or lot number if there is one. That number is a lifeline – it’s how you track down your favorite dress at the MFA or the Met or any other museum site after they change their website design and all of their collections links go dead. Thanks to the Google Images search function that allows you to search for an image based on the copied url of an image, it’s easier to track down lost museum objects, but let’s make it easier for ourselves and just include those accession numbers.

Now, what do you think? Is Pinterest useful for researching historical costume, or do you think it’s more like Tumblr – just another copyright infringement? How do you feel about re-pinning images that aren’t pinned from the original source? How has Pinterest helped your research?

p.s. if anyone is desirous of a Pinterest invite, let me know. I’m happy to share the pinning love!