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Art - Theater Production: Costumes

"Visual Reference" resources provide drawings, photographs and detailed images to aid the construction, application, and understanding of costumes.  For resources by century see the Historic Costume: North America and Western Europe research guide.

Museums, Galleries and Library Collections

Visual Reference Surveys

Visual Reference Series

Dover Pictorial Archive Series 

Dover reprints of period titles provide easy access to primary documents.

Fashion in Detail series.  Victoria and Albert Museum, London

From the most comprehensive fashion collection in the west comes a series detailing the construction and sewing techniques of garments from the 17th to the 20th centuries. For more see the Historic Costume LibGuide

Sears Department Store Catalogs. Sears, Roebuck and Company 

Sears annual merchandise catalogs provided fashionable styles, appliances and even pre-made houses to small town and rural America.  The Sears Catalog Series provides a glimpse into the material goods available in America for a century.

Sears: [Catalog]. 1897, 1928/29 - 1957 (incomplete), 1961, 1970
Call # 658.872 Se17; Location: Storage

Everyday fashions of the [decade here]|
Selections from the Sears Catalog grouped by decade.
Art Library, GT615 .E89 through GT615 .E93


Magazines contain both images of contemporary clothing and hints about the broader cultural context. 

American Heritage. 1949-2012 (incomplete)
​Print: Main Library (1949-2012 incomplete)
Online: 1990 - 2012 

Esquire. 1979-present
Print: Main Library, through 2003
Online: 1996-present

Harper’s Bazaar. 1867-2018
Main Library, 1867-1975 (incomplete)
Online: 1867-1912; 1994-2018 

Life magazine. 1936-2001
Print: Main Library, 1936-1972
Online: through 2001

Marg. 1951-2004; 2007 to present
Print: Art Library, 1951-2004
Online: 2007-present

National Geographic. 1959-present
Print: Main Library. 1959-present
Online: 1959 - three months ago

Saturday Evening Post. 1821-present (incomplete)
Print: Main Library, 1899-1974
Online: 1821-present (incomplete)


Women's Interests

Delineator: A Monthly Magazine; Illustrating European & American Fashions. 1886; 1879-1920 (incomplete)
Includes patterns for dresses
Print: Art Library, 1879-1920 (incomplete)
Online: 1876

Godey's Lady's Book. 1840-1890 (incomplete)
Print: Main Library Special Collections, 1840-1890 (incomplete)
Online: 1840-1858

Good Housekeeping. 1887-1976 (incomplete)
Print: Main Library, 1887-1976 (incomplete)
Online: 1994-2018

Ladies’ Home Journal. 1884-1976
Main Library,1889-1976
Online: 1884-1907