Victorian Fashions and Costumes from Harper’s Bazar 1867-1898 edited by Stella Blum

“Jesus Christ, I love a pleat!”

Such are the things I exclaim while looking at books of period costume.

In my consumption of historical romance novels, one of my main areas of interest, other than the banter, is the clothing of the era. My like (Oooh, bustles!) or dislike (Regency, bah!) of the women’s clothing has an impact on my enjoyment of the book. I like to think I know what I’m talking about. I don’t really. I have a rough understanding of the progression of the basic silhouette through the decades of the 19th century, but that’s about it. I have a lot of gaps in my knowledge. Large gaps. More gaps than knowledge, frankly. HOWEVER, the advantage of being a parent at Christmas is the need to fill everyone’s stocking, so Santa brought me three books from my Amazon wish list –

  1. Victorian Fashions and Costumes from Harper’s Bazar 1867-1898 edited by Stella Blum
  2. Victorian and Edwardian Fashions from “La Mode Illustree” edited by JoAnne Ollan
  3. Victorian Fashions: A Pictorial Archive selected and arranged by Carol Belanger Grafton

Those last two are literally picture books and I will therefore not count them toward my tally despite poring over them. The Harper’s Bazar volume is mostly a picture book with chapter introductions by decade explaining changes in fashion/culture and then varying degrees of detailed descriptions of each Harper’s Bazar extracts. The introductions were very interesting and informative. The individual fashion plate descriptions were more challenging and required a lot of vocabulary I lack. My comprehension was basically limited to “so very pretty”, “not pretty”, and “this was before less was more”, but still extremely enjoyable nonetheless and I know I will look at them, and read the summaries, again and again.

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