Clothing Books

Before sending your first-born to, go to and check on the Compleat Anachronist list.  There may be something on clothing for your period that will use information from many of the following sources. 

  • CA#39 is a well-annotated bibliography of clothing.
  • CA#14 is an introduction to basic SCA sewing.
  • Some specialize in an area, like the Viking (36, 57, 59), Russian (35, 99) and Japanese (65) issues. Others treat a particular object, such as veils (100) hats (133), shoes (140), or gloves (131).
  • CA is a bargain at $4.50 per booklet.

A Clothing Bibliography

Arnold, Janet.  Patterns of fashion. NY, Drama Book. This is a series of books containing patterns, details of history and construction, and close-up photos of extant clothing.  For very late period, this series is essential.

Boucher, François.  20,000 years of fashion: the history of costume and personal adornment.  Expanded ed.  New York, Harry N. Abrams, 1987.  [LaXPL 391 B66t 1987]  20,000 years – one page per century. Still, an excellent overview.

Brooke, Iris.  English costume of the early middle ages: the tenth to the thirteenth centuries.  London, A & C Black, 1936.  (original edition)  English costume from the early middle ages through the sixteenth century. Dover, 2000 (reprint edition) [LPL-N R391.B79EE.2000]

Brooke, Iris and William-Alan Landes.  Western European costume:  13th to 17th century and its relation to the theatre.  Studio City, CA, Players Press, c1993.  [LaXPL 391 B79w 1993]

Brooke, Iris.  Medieval theatre costume: a practical guide to the construction of garments. Theatre Arts Books, 1967. [LaXPL 391.B79M]

Calthrop, Dion Clayton.  English costume.  Vol. 1:  Early English.  London, Adam and Charles Black, 1906. [WPL]

Calthrop, Dion Clayton.  English costume 1066-1820.  NY, Barnes & Noble, c1906.  [UWMem GT730.C3.1963.]

Calthrop, Dion Clayton.  English costume. A&C Black, 1923. [LaXPL 391.C13]   Intended for stage costume.

Crowfoot, Elisabeth et al  Textiles and clothing c.1150-c.1450 [by] Elisabeth Crowfoot, Frances Pritchard and Kay Staniland. (Medieval finds from excavations in London: 4)  New edition. Woodbridge, Boydell Press, 2001. [UWMem TS1317.C76.2001, Minitex U Minn]  This series contains reports on archaeological digs. Most of the excellent pictures show only bits and pieces.  However, each bit is carefully dated, and painstakingly drawn or photographed. This is for advanced study, not for beginners.

Cunnington, C. Willett, Phillis Cunnington, and Charles Beard.  A dictionary of English Costume.  London, Adam & Charles Black, 1960.  [WPL]

Cunnington, C. Willett and Phillis Cunnington.  The history of underclothes.  New York, Dover, 1992 (orig 1922).  [LaXPL 391 C917HI 1992]

Cunnington, Phillis & Catherine Lucas.  Occupational costume in England from the eleventh century to 1914.  NY, Barnes & Noble, 1967.  [LaXPL 391 C91o]   Cunnington really knows her stuff.

deCourtais, Georgine.  Women’s Headdress and Hairstyles in England from AD600 to the present day.  London, Batsford, 1973.  [LaXPL] Fashion includes accessories and hairstyles. This is a nice summary of some of the trends.

Dunlevy, Mairead.  Dress in Ireland.  Cork, Collins, 1999, c1989.  [LPL Ref]  Nice black & white photos.

Egan, Geoff and Frances Pritchard. Dress accessories, c.1150-c.1450.  (Medieval finds from excavations in London: 3)  New ed. s.l., Boydell Press, 2002.  [UW, ILL]  Buttons, brooches & buckles.  See the comment on Crowfoot’s book.

Harris, Jennifer.  Textiles: 5,000 years:  an international and illustrated survey.  NY, Abrams, 1993.  [LaXPL 746.09 T314 1993]  Too broad for sewers, but weavers might find it useful.

Harte, N. B. and K. G. Ponting, eds.  Cloth and clothing in medieval Europe:  essays in memory of Professor E. M. Carus-Wilson.  (Passold studies in textile history, 2.)  Heinemann Educational Books, 1983. [UW Mem TS1317.C55.1983]  Highly specialized. Not for beginners.

Hartley, Dorothy.  Mediæval costume and life: a review of their social aspects arranged under various classes and workers with instructions for making various types of dress. NY, Scribners, London Batsford, 1931. [UW Steenbock GT732.H3.1931]

Hartley, Dorothy.  Medieval costume and how to create it.  Mineola, NY, Dover, 2003. (reprint of Mediæval costume and life.) [Marathon County Lib 391.009 H255m]  Notice the date of publication. This book is a guide to stage costume, not to period construction.

Hayward, Maria. “Crimson, Scarlet, Murrey and Carnation…”  Textile History 38(2) pp. 135-150 (November 2007).

A History of fashion and costume. Facts on File, 2005. 8 volumes. [LPL, Onalaska]  A good beginner’s overview, but the pictures are modern drawings, not period art.

Houston, Mary G.  Medieval costume in England & France: The 13th, 14th and 15th centuries.  London, Adam & Charles Black, 1939.  [RedWingPL 391 H81]  Good, considering the limitations of its age.

Köhler, Karl, and Emma von Sichart. A history of costume. NY, Dover, 1963 (1928) [UWSP GT510.K6]   Almost one-third of this book deals with SCA period. There are line drawings of pattern and photos of extant works. Unfortunately, Köhler doesn’t list the sources of his drawings, and he isn’t very good with dates. (A picture from a 14th-century book was labeled “German female dress of the twelfth century”)  Use with caution.

Koslin, Désirée G. and Janet E. Snyder.  Encountering medieval textiles and dress: objects, texts, images.  NY, Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.  [UW Mem GT575 E53 2002]  Essays. Very advanced.

Lacroix, Paul  (1806-1884). Manners, Custom and Dress During the Middle Ages and During the Renaissance Period. Project Gutenberg [EBook #10940] Release Date: February 4, 2004.  Included more for its availability than for its accuracy. Opinionated?  You bet! Trustworthy?  Nope.

Lester, Katherine Morris & Rose Netzorg Kerr.  Historic costume:  a resumé of style and fashion from remote times to the nineteen-sixties.  6th ed.  Peoria, Chas. A, Bennett, 1956.  Untrustworthy.

Martin, Rebecca.  Textiles in daily life in the middle ages.  Cleveland Museum of Art, Published in cooperation with Indiana University Press. c1985. [UW Steenbock NK8808.M37.1985]

Netherton, Robin and Gale R. Owen-Crocker have edited several volumes of Medieval Clothing and Textiles. These are available from Amazon for about $50 a pop.

Norris, Herbert.  Medieval costume and fashion. NY, Dover, 1999 (1927).  Norris planned to write 7 volumes on the history of costume. This is volume 2. It is available everywhere, so it’s used a lot and shows up in many libraries. Unfortunately, it isn’t entirely trustworthy. Take it with a grain of salt.

Payne, Blanche.  History of costume:  from the ancient Egyptians to the Twentieth Century.  NY, Harper & Row, 1965  [WPL 324.91.P346]  A good, if overly broad, general overview.

Peacock, John.  The chronicle of Western fashion: from ancient times to the present day.  NY, Abrams, c1991.  [LaXPL 391 P313c 1991]  A truly terrible and useless book.

Piponnier, Françoise and Perrine Marie.  Dress in the middle ages.  New Haven, Yale University Press, 1997.  [UWMem GT575.P5613.1997]

Planché, J. R.  A history of British costume: from ancient times to the eighteenth century.  Teddington, Senate, 2001 (1834). Considering its age, this is a marvelous book. Though the art is redrawn, it’s attributed, so it’s possible to track down the original. There are some interesting period quotations included.  Online:

Schnurnberger, Lynn Edelman. Kings queens knights & jesters: making medieval costume. NY, Harper & Row, 1978. [ILL]  For children. OK for Halloween costumes.

Scott, Margaret.  The Fourteenth & Fifteenth Centuries:  A Visual History of Costume.  London, B. T. Batsford, 1986.  [WPL 391.S428]

Scott, Margaret.   Medieval clothing and costume: displaying wealth and class in medieval times. (The library of the middle ages). NY, Rosen, 2004.  [LaX Cty +391.009 Sc]

Scott, Margaret.  Medieval dress & fashion.  [London] British Library, 2007 [LPL 391 SCO851M 2007]

Scott, Margaret. Fashion in the middle ages.  J. Paul Getty Museum, 2011.

Sichel, Marion.  History of Women’s Costume.  (Costume Reference) London, Batsford Academic & Educational, 1984. [LaXPL]  Line drawings. Intended for young readers.

Stenton, Frank, ed.  The Bayeux Tapestry:  a comprehensive survey.  London, Phaidon Press, 1965.  [WPL 746 S826]

Thursfield, Sarah.  The medieval tailor’s assistant: making common garments 1200-1500.  Hollywood, Costume & Fashion Press, c2001. []  A good start for 1400-1500.