Costume in Detail Book Review


It’s been all kinds of crazy this last fortnight! I feel like I’ve spent all my time running from place to place. Consequently, I have a lot of sewing projects started, but not much to actually report. So, instead of my usual sewing post this week, I’ll be writing a quick review of Costume in Detail (Nancy Bradfield), which is the newest historical costuming book I’ve bought. It’s also probably one of my new favorites (and you can find it on Amazon here).

Costume in Detail covers women’s clothing from 1730 through 1930. In the authors introductions, Bradfield said she had originally planned to include men’s clothes, but that it would have made the book much too long or involved taking out many of the women’s clothes. So, unfortunately, if you’re interested in menswear, this won’t be the book for you.


Each dress is a line drawing of an extant gown, and includes notes and details on the sides, like fabric choices, construction, or anything else of interest. There are over 370 line drawings, including bodices, gowns, jackets, and even accessories such as handbags and hats. The book manages to cover a wide historical period, but still contains multiple examples of most decades, and different pieces, so you don’t only get one image of a period.

All the garments in the book are copied off extant gowns, so you don’t have to worry about historical accuracy or if they are actually period correct, which is something I appreciate it – I have quite a few costume books that need fact checking every now and then!


At 30 – 40 dollars on Amazon, it isn’t exactly cheap, but it isn’t expensive, either, by costuming book standards. And it is definitely worth the investment, in my eyes. The included notes and descriptions, as well as the incredibly clear and well done line drawings, make it a great purchase, even if you aren’t into sewing. Everything’s just so pretty to look at!


This is definitely a book I’ll keep coming back to and looking at for reference, especially with the wide range of styles and fashion pieces it covers. The information on shoes, fabric patterns, and dress closures (especially closures) is really helpful and a great resource.

Hopefully my schedule will calm down a bit soon and I’ll be back to my regular sewing posts next week.

Until then!



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