We writers are a cheap lot. Many of us don't have a big budget for our research books. And let's face it, not everything we need or want or think we need can be found on the Web. In four years of managing the gift shop at Kent Plantation House in Alexandria, Louisiana, I gleaned some great, cheap fashion resources.
For the writer on a tight budget, Dover Publications is one of your very best friends. There's a ton of cheap, great resources there for nearly any time period and subject you can think of. But this post is dedicated to fashion, so I'm going to share a few tips for building your fashion research library without breaking the bank.
Tom Tierney. He is a costume historian, and an artist. Among other things, he does paper dolls for Dover. As of this writing when you type his name into the search box at Dover's website it comes back with 160 results. He's done everything from classic movie stars to American presidents and the musical Mikado.
But I want to specifically point your attention to his American Family series. He's done a variety of periods, including American Family of the Colonial Era and American Family of the Federal Era. If you read this blog, these two are must haves for your library.
What makes these paper dolls truly stand out is multiple generations of the family are represented. There are grandparents, parents, older teens and grade school age. The dolls are in period correct undergarments and each page of costumes includes a detailed description. Best of all they're $6.95. Coloring books are usually $3.95.
There are dozens of other gems hidden at Dover. Fashion plates from Godey's Lady's Book turned into paper dolls. Coloring books for anything you can imagine, paper dolls of Queen Victoria and Empress Eugenie, Emperor Franz Joseph, Byzantine era, French Baroque, American Family in the Pilgrim Era, Marie Antoinette, ancient Egypt, Shakespeare, Henry VIII and his wives, Carmen Miranda and Vivian Leigh. And I've barely scratched the surface here! You can even get reprints of Sears catalogs. I have one of fashion from the 1920's.
Dover is a great resource no matter what you're researching. And if you're a homeschooling mom, the coloring books are an excellent learning tool. My mom has at least fifty Dover coloring books that we used as part of school. And just looking through the search right now to write this post, I see at least three coloring books that I "need" for my own research purposes. (and so I can color in them)