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Fashion Studies

A guide to doing historical, cultural, and social science research on fashion.

Research a Subculture

Which keywords to use?  

Fashion + Style + Culture + Subculture  + Street Style

Example: Name of subculture (Grunge)
Country or region of subculture (United States/American/Seattle/Pacific Northwest)
People or music bands associated with the style (Nirvana)
Name of designer associated with style (Marc Jacobs for Perry Ellis)

Think about synonyms and related terms (grunge, nineties, alternative rock)

Encyclopedias

Books

Articles

Images

Chicago Manual of Style

Research a Decade's Fashion

Process

Use these resources to identify a trend, topic, or designer associated with a decade.  Once you've identified a research topic, cycle back through the resources using specific keywords.  For example, you might read about 90s fashion to find out what topic to focus on, and that might lead you to grunge, rave, hip hop, Kate Moss, Marc Jacobs, heroin chic, or various other topics to focus on.

Books

  • Search BobCat, the library catalog, for books on the fashion of your period.  For example: 90s fashion, nineties fashion, 1990s fashion
  • Browse books on 20th century fashion in GT 596.  
  • View our Guide to Books on Fashion History

Reference Books

Articles

Images

View the Images page of this guide for suggested resources.  

Ebooks

RESEARCH A DESIGNER OR A GARMENT, STYLE OR ERA

Biographies and Reference

• Search Bloomsbury Fashion Central, which has the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion and other reference works, as well as e-books and article citations.

• Search Gale Virtual Reference Library to search inside digitized versions of the reference books, Contemporary Fashion edited by Taryn Benbow-Pfalzgraf and Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion edited by Valerie Steele.


Books 

• Search BobCat for books on your designer.  If you don't find any books in BobCat, try searching Google Books.

• Search Ebook Central, an e-book database, to search inside complete books that you can print or download.


Articles, Reports, News

• Search fashion databases in the Articles & Databases tab of BobCat for articles.  Try these databases:

Images

• Look in the online guide Images for Designers and Art Researchers for a list of images resources.

Videos

• See the Video tab of this research guide to learn more.

Primary Sources

RESEARCH HISTORICAL COSTUME IN A PAINTING

Select a painting

Go to http://metmuseum.org/ and click on "Collection" and "The Collection Online."  You can select "Show only artworks on display."

You can also use ARTStor to do an advanced search for a narrow date range.


Reference

• Search Bloomsbury Fashion Central, which has the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion and other reference works, as well as e-books and article citations.

• Search Gale Virtual Reference Library to search inside digitized versions of the reference books, Contemporary Fashion edited by Taryn Benbow-Pfalzgraf and Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion edited by Valerie Steele.


Books

• Search BobCat for books.  Use the style, era, and country as keywords. Try multiple searches, both general (europe + costume + history) and specific (Napoleon + costume).

• Search Ebook Central, an e-book database, to search inside complete books that you can print or download.

• Browse the onsite collections in call number GT.