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The General Collections



Starting Places
Periodical Indexes
Periodicals for Girls (and Boys)
Industry and Labor Union Journals
arrow graphicFashion Magazines and Pattern Books
Publications of Organizations
State Historical Society Publications
Biographical Sources
Women's Writings
Other Sources




Fashion Magazines and Pattern Books
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“Paris Gives Full Play to Chic.” Illustration from the Delineator, August 1926, p. 28 (TT500.D3). General Collections.

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A costume designer preparing for a Roaring Twenties farce and a woman trying to date a photograph of her great-grandmother have something in common: for both, the Library's large collection of fashion magazines and pattern books provides supportive materials for their quests. You can observe clothing styles appropriate for different years, seasons, activities, age levels, and classes in long runs of titles such as:

  • Harper's Bazar (with title change to Harper's Bazaar, 1867-, TT500.H3, 1867-1912; microfilm 05422, reels 430-50 MicRR)
  • Elite Styles (1897-1929, TT500.E4)
  • McCall's Magazine (1897-2001, TT500.M2)
  • Pictorial Review (1899-1939, TT500.P6)

Class number TT500 leads to highly illustrated women's fashion magazines, which until the late twentieth century depict primarily middle- and upper-class white women. Catalogs for ordering dressmaking patterns, such as Butterick Fashions (1931-57, TT500.B8) and Vogue Pattern Book (with title change, 1931-, incomplete, TT500.V717), show styles for middle- and working-class women to sew. You can read the January 1926 issue of the Delineator online.

What Kinds of Information Can You Find in Fashion Magazines?

Here are a few examples:

You can trace variations in hair styles, makeup, accessories, hemlines, heel heights, and colors. Women wearing hats and gloves may tell us about the formality or modesty of an era. Images of women in illustrations, advertisements, and examples of undergarments reveal revisions in desired body shape over time—tiny waists, flat chests, long exposed legs, or cleavage. Material for clothing may vary with tariffs, rationing, or new technologies. Seasonal issues show how holidays were celebrated with decorations, food, and gifts. Maternity outfits may tell about views of pregnancy; children's clothing reflects shifts in concepts of childhood. Evidence for many kinds of history can be gleaned from these works.

Dressmaking—Pattern books—Periodicals

LC CALL NUMBERS: Since many of these journals lack subject headings, they can be searched only by call number. Most fashion and clothing journals are arranged alphabetically by original title under TT500.

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