In preparation for my trip to Colonial Williamsburg this coming October, 2012, and because I’m obsessive, I’ve been collecting books on the subject of 18th century clothing, their details, construction, and general history. My most recent acquisition is “Eighteenth-Century Clothing at Williamsburg” by Linda Baumgarten, a delightful survey of some of the clothing housed in the Williamsburg collection.
“Eighteenth-Century Clothing at Williamsburg” is a survey of 18th century clothing. It covers firstly women’s various garments, including accessories, then men’s, then children’s. The photos of each piece are clear and easy to study, with several being in color. In addition, there are contemporary illustrations, paintings, and cartoons that support the extant examples.
|Via CW’s eMuseum|
This is an excellent book for those who are new to 18th century costuming. It discusses the major styles of gowns as well as jackets and articles of undress, and covers a basic history of textile production as it pertains to the American colonies. Attention is paid to hats, aprons, muffs, pockets, shoes, fans, and gloves as well, which I find to be under-represented in other publications.
Notably, this book is written by one of our premier experts on textiles, Linda Baumgarten, who has been the curator of textiles at Colonial Williamsburg for longer than I have been alive. With two masters in costume design and textiles, this lady knows her stuff!
If you have already been studying 18th century clothing for some time, you may find this booklet to be remedial. The pictures are lovely and always a good source of inspiration and information, but the text is meant as an overview of fashions of the period rather than an academic look into the specifics.
I would definitely recommend this book paired with another in the Colonial Williamsburg collection, Costume Close-Up: Clothing Construction and Pattern, 1750-1790, which contains patterns and construction details for several of the Williamsburg garments.
Another drawback is that the book is primarily printed in black and white. It is difficult to imagine the colors of 18th century clothing, but luckily (and this is actually a “pro”), all the garments can be seen in color on Colonial Williamsburg’s website (click here), but are not so easily saved to your inspiration folder, Tumblr, or Pinterest boards.
|One of the gowns also shown in “Costume Closeup”|
I do recommend “Eighteenth-Century Clothing at Williamsburg” for those just starting out in 18th century costuming, those preparing to visit Colonial Williamsburg, and anybody wishing to brush up on their knowledge, particularly of clothing history in the American colonies. It’s a nice little book to have on your shelf, written by a consummate expert on the subject, so go and buy it and enjoy!